What does it mean when a climatologist slips on an icy sidewalk in early February and breaks his ankle? Does that tell us we're going to have more than the usual amount of spring rain because of freezing rain in winter? Iowa State University Extension climatologist Elwynn Taylor slipped on an icy sidewalk and broke his ankle last month. The accident occurred close to Ground Hog Day.
Is this a sign the drought of 2012 is broken? So far, it is not for Iowa and the western Corn Belt, as we move further into 2013. All it means is that Taylor has been hobbling around on crutches. The accident didn't slow him down much, by the way. He still attended most of his scheduled meetings and speaking engagements in February, talking to farmers and others about weather and crop prospects for 2013.
Western Corn Belt is heading toward 2013 planting season with dry subsoil
There is a lot of concern that we're entering planting season in 2013 with a very dry subsoil moisture supply -- not everywhere in Iowa and the Midwest -- but certainly low in many places. Any chance of totally replenishing soil moisture reserves before farmers get into the fields this spring? "We're not going to get this issue completely solved for Iowa, and the western Corn Belt," says Taylor. "It will take timely rains during the growing season to produce a big crop in 2013."
For much of Illinois and over into Indiana, they've already received enough precipitation since last summer's drought to pretty much correct their subsoil moisture situation. That's good news for the eastern Corn Belt. "But once you get into Iowa and our neighbor states to the west, we are still on the dry side," Taylor notes.
Official forecast says drought will likely keep its grip on Iowa at least through May
The latest three-month weather forecast from the federal Climate Prediction Center, issued in late February, holds little hope that Iowa's drought will ease soon. Forecasters say it's a coin flip whether the western half of the state will get more precipitation than normal through May. And there's a chance the weather might be warmer than usual, which would worsen the drought.