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US Snowpack Is Highest in Past Decade - 17th December 2013

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Tuesday 17th December 2013.
Sarah Mikesell - TheCropSite Senior Editor

Sarah Mikesell
Senior Editor



US Snowpack Is Highest in Past Decade

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas… or Let it Snow, Let It Snow, Let it Snow! The holiday songs tell the story here in the Midwest. We’ve got snow coming down right now in the Chicago area with another 1-2 inches expected this (Monday) evening and another few inches are expected Tuesday morning.

My UK colleagues often tease me that if they want a weather forecast all they need do is read my newsletter. This week I’m sure I’ll get more grief because I’m about to expand (and try not to complain) on our bitterly cold, icy, snowy, blowy weather!

The US has seen a larger snowpack this month than at any point in the past decade. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 53% of the lower 48 states had some snow cover on Dec. 15, which is the highest on that date since similar records started in 2003. The range of snow cover over that time ranges from 12% in 2006 to our record level of 53% now.

An unusual weather pattern that brought the early season snow in late November also brought the record-cold Artic temperatures. Temperatures dipped down to at least minus-43°F in Montana just week ago and are about 10 to 20°F below average elsewhere.

While in the US, we have felt like Popsicles since the start of winter, the rest of the world was unusually mild during November. According to NASA, November was the warmest such month on record worldwide since temperature data began being collected in 1880. The top 10 warmest Novembers in NASA’s dataset have all occurred since 2001. What do you think that tell us?

Worldwide above-average temperatures affected Eurasia, Africa, Australia, and the majority of South America.

Ag weather around the globe:

  • EUROPE: Seasonably cooler weather eased winter wheat and rapeseed into dormancy, while developing dryness in Spain reduced soil moisture for wheat and barley.
  • WESTERN FSU: Colder weather ushered winter crops into dormancy, with light to moderate snow providing some insulation for wheat.
  • MIDDLE EAST: Widespread rain boosted soil moisture for wheat and barley establishment across most of the region.
  • NORTHWEST AFRICA: Additional showers maintained adequate to abundant soil moisture for winter wheat establishment in Algeria and Tunisia.
  • EASTERN ASIA: Dry, mild weather necessitated increased irrigation for vegetative winter crops.
  • SOUTHEAST ASIA: Widespread showers maintained favorable moisture supplies for rice in Java, Indonesia.
  • AUSTRALIA: Showers slowed winter crop harvesting in the west and southeast.
  • SOUTH AFRICA: Conditions remained overall favorable for corn and other rain-fed summer crops.
  • ARGENTINA: Warmth and dryness promoted summer grain and oilseed planting, while reducing topsoil moisture in some major farming areas.
  • BRAZIL: Widespread showers maintained mostly favorable conditions for soybeans and other summer crops.

Have a great week!

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