Goodbye winter, hello spring?

March 13, 2019 9:40 AM
Blog Post

Old man winter seems to just be hanging around, but we have had some glimpses that spring will arrive eventually.

We’ve had below normal temperatures (averaged for December, January, and February was 20.8 degrees or 1.3 degrees below normal) and above normal precipitation (total precipitation for December, January, and February was 5.63 inches, 2.32 inches more than normal) across the state this winter.

Source for maps:

Looking at the Accumulated Winter Season Severity Index (AWSSI), which is calculated on temperature, snowfall, and snow depth, depth, we’ve experienced a severe or extreme winter. It shouldn’t be surprising then that the 2018/2019 winter is ranked as the 57th coldest and 3rd wettest winter among 147 years of records. March has started off with a similar trend in being below average in temperature and above average in precipitation. Looking at the weather outlook, the outlook does favor a cooler than normal March with an equal change for above, below, or climatologically normal precipitation.

There is a probability for a wetter than average field conditions as we move into spring. Looking at the soil moisture conditions in Iowa, most of Iowa is in the 99th percentile for soil moisture with the western part of of Iowa being in the 95th percentile along with a small portion of Lee County. This indicates surplus top and sub-soil moisture as we head into the growing season.

As we have started to melt away the snow, we are seeing more surface run-off and flooding (river and lowland). Parts of northern/north-central Iowa still have 2 to 4 inches of water in snow that needs to melt. This could create some challenges in getting field work completed this spring. Check out this ICM News article, "Spring planting and wet soil management" for ideas on how to manage the wet soil conditions in fields this spring.

Short-term precipitation outlooks covering the second half of March indicate increased chances of drier than normal conditions across Iowa. An extended period of dryness will be beneficial for the anomalously wet conditions across the state.

Additional resource:

Iowa Preliminary Monthly Weather Summary – February 2019

By: Justin Glisan, State Climatologist for Iowa and Dennis Todey, Director of Midwest Climate Hub