The devastating drought of 2012 took its biggest toll in the Eastern Corn Belt, particularly Indiana and Illinois. It did spill over into Missouri, Iowa and Nebraska later in the season. Ken Scheeringa, Indiana associate state climatologist, says the area to keep an eye on now for dry weather as you move into 2013 is the Western Corn Belt.
While it's far too early to make spring predictions, let alone summer forecasts for 2013, it is interesting to note that weather patterns continue on the dry side in the Western Corn Belt, he says. Meanwhile, rains have returned across most of the Eastern Corn Belt, led by one of the wettest Septembers on record in parts of Indiana.
He expects decent moisture totals to continue in the Eastern Corn Belt. For Indiana, at least, it may be an up and down winter that winds up average on precipitation and temperature, but embedded in the winter will be very warm periods, rainy periods, dry periods, cold and snow. It will be easier to know what winter might bring as it moves closer, he notes.
Since the largest forcing factor that typically affects weather, the El Nino/La Nina cycle, is more or less absent for the current equation, winter weather in the Eastern Corn Belt will more likely be controlled by factors that have a shorter life span and develop more quickly, with less lag time, than an El Nino or La Nina. What that means is it will be more difficult to get a clear read on the 90-days forecast. It's likely one reason why national forecasters are holding with equal chances of above normal, normal, or below normal temperatures and precipitation.
Normal won't likely tell the story, though, Scheeringa says. The numbers may average out, but the winter here may be anything but normal. He expects a choppy winter with both warm and cold periods.