What can we expect in terms of weather during the rest of May, into June and throughout the summer? Weather now becomes the key question as you make decisions about when and what to plant — or not plant.
Beth Hall was director of the Midwestern Regional Climate Center based in Illinois until recently. She moved to Purdue University to become the Indiana state climatologist. Hall held a similar position in New Hampshire before becoming director of the MRCC in 2012.
Here are questions Indiana Prairie Farmer posed to Hall about what to expect from the weather in the coming months.
What is the short-term weather outlook? Will the wet trend continue in Indiana? The one- to two-week forecasts are indicating confidence of above-normal precipitation into early June, but then the climate outlooks for the first two weeks in June show increasing probabilities for below-normal precipitation across the state.
Unfortunately, those “Week 3-4 Outlooks” that represent the first two weeks in June are highly experimental and seem to contradict the short-term forecasts and the June climate outlook that was just released on May 16.
So what does June look like overall? The June monthly outlook is showing no significant probabilities of either above- or below-normal precipitation across the state, indicating too much uncertainty in the models. This information is coming from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Precipitation Center. You can check it out for yourself at cpc.ncep.noaa.gov.
What is the longer-term outlook for summer for Indiana and the Corn Belt? Unfortunately, the three-month climate outlook, which represents June through August, is indicating an increased chance for above-normal precipitation for Indiana. These data do not indicate how much greater than normal the precipitation is expected to be, nor how evenly it may fall during that period, so there could still be periods of extended dryness interspersed with a few heavy rainfall periods.
Of course, this could also mean typical rainfall patterns with a few hundredths of an inch above normal each time. It is very difficult to predict the magnitude and timing, but the models are suggesting above-normal precipitation over this period. This information is also coming from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Precipitation Center referred to in the previous question.
We have had late fall frost dates the last several seasons. Is that related to climate change? Are odds higher for late frost this season? The later fall frost dates seem to be the predominant trend over recent years. However, keep in mind that there is still significant variability from year to year. For example, when considering the date of the first fall freeze, using Indianapolis as a representative location, since 2000, the earliest date was Oct. 2 in 2003, and the latest was Nov. 12 in 2016. However, as recently as 2012 and 2015, that date was Oct. 8 and Oct. 18, respectively.