Ask Ken Scheeringa about summer weather forecasts and he'll tell you it's just too far out to be reliable. The assistant Indiana state climatologist isn't ready to go beyond spring. The forecast for spring that he's sticking with calls for above normal temperatures and moisture in the Eastern Corn Belt.
However, a blanket statement made a few weeks ago by an administrator at the federal level has caused confusion. When asked about the summer, he mentioned the possibility of another dry year. After 2012 many people, including media outlets, are nervous that it might repeat itself.
"What he left out was that there is potential for hot, dry conditions and perhaps a drought in the western Corn Belt, but not here," Scheeringa says. "Most of Indiana is recovering nicely and we should go into spring with ample moisture reserves. In fact, finding a window of opportunity for fieldwork could be challenging in the Eastern Corn Belt."
If there is a problem with dry weather it will be in the Western Corn Belt, where dry conditions exist. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, many parts of Iowa and further west are still in some phase of drought. To add to that, many subsoils were depleted of moisture last year as crops rooted deep to find moisture in 2012. Subsoils tend to be deeper than here, especially in Iowa, but it also takes more to replenish them once they're depleted. Iowa and western Corn Belt states typically receive less rainfall per year than Indiana anyway.
Starting out without sufficient subsoil moisture reserves sets up the possibility for a drought. It takes sufficient rainfall on a consistent basis to supply water for crops in that situation.
"We will have some areas that are dry for a while at some point during the summer in Indiana, most likely," Scheeringa says. "That's normal and occurs in almost every summer. We certainly don't expect anything like last summer. That was so rare that it would be highly unlikely that it would repeat itself again so soon."