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What Did February's Weather Mean for the US? - 18th March 2014

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Tuesday 18th March 2014.
Sarah Mikesell - TheCropSite Senior Editor

Sarah Mikesell
Senior Editor



What Did February's Weather Mean for the US?

Greetings from a still frigid Midwest – yes, I can’t believe that I’m still wearing my heavy winter coat and it’s mid-March. I know – enough complaining. Spring has so arrive soon… I ran into a few great stories on my Twitter feed that I wanted to share today. If you're interested following me on Twitter, click @sarahmikesell.

I have voiced my concerns about our aging US infrastructure before. Here’s a different perspective (abbreviated) from Alex Tabarrok:

Building in the US requires navigating environmental, zoning and aesthetic regulations that vary not only by state but by county. If you think building a house is difficult, try building an airport.

Since deregulation in 1978, passenger travel has more than tripled, but only one major new US airport has been built: Denver’s. That airport is now the fourth busiest in the world.

The top seven busiest airports are all in the US, not because we are big but because without new construction we are forced to overcrowd our existing infrastructure, resulting in delays and inefficiency. Meanwhile, China is building 50 to 100 new airports over the next 10 years. 

As you know, I’m a complete weather geek - here’s some factoids about February’s US weather from NOAA National Climatic Data Center:

  • Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri and Wisconsin had a top 10 cold winter. Detroit had its snowiest winter on record.
  • Texas reservoirs averaged 64% of capacity in February, the lowest level for the date in 25 years.
  • Persistent cold during winter caused 91% of the Great Lakes to be frozen, the 2nd largest ice cover on record.
  • The contiguous US drought footprint shrank to 35.9% down from 37.4% at the beginning of the month.
  • California had its warmest and 3rd driest winter on record. Despite late-season storms, very low snowpack and large precipitation deficits remain.
  • Alaska has its 8th warmest and 27th wettest winter on record.
  • On Feb 11-14, the winter storm that hit the Southeast and Northeast was rated a Category 3, or major, on the NESIS scale.

Around the world:

  • In Brazil, drought hit the center-south and heavy rains impacted the center west. Coffee, soy, citrus, sugarcane and cattle ranching are the most affected by the excessive weather.
  • The UK continued to see heavy rains in February resulting in flooding, destruction of railway lines and thousands without power.
  • China’s far western region of Xinjiang was hit by a 6.9 magnitude earthquake in mid-February.
  • Australia’s rainfall deficiencies continued in eastern Australia despite easing in western Queensland, lifting much of the area out of the lowest 10% of rainfall records. 

On a different note, the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (GRSB) has released its draft Principles and Criteria for Global Sustainable Beef document for public comment.

The document identifies the key areas in the beef value chain that must be addressed to ensure beef production around the globe is environmentally sound, socially responsible and economically viable.

If you’d like to review the proposed draft, click here. Offer your comments – tell them what you think!

Have a great week!


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