ST. LOUIS — Farmers in the Midwest may want to get used to
wet springs and drier summers, according to one forecaster.
Drew Lerner, founder and president of World Weather Inc.,
believes historical patterns indicate that farmers in the Midwest may be facing
soggy planting conditions and challenging growing weather. In addition, the
region could experience a cold, wet winter this year.
“We went from recovery year in 1935 to severe drought in
1936. Are we going to do that again? Most likely, not,” Lerner told members of
the St. Louis AgriBusiness Club.
“But what I’ve seen is we’re going into these patterns — wet
springs and drier summers — and I still think we’re going to be seeing something
like that next year. Everything I’ve seen suggests another wet cycle for the
He also projected an early frost this year for much of the
“Everybody to the east is going to see earlier-than-normal
freezing,” he said. “There is a higher-than-normal probability of getting a
frost or freeze in the northern Plains, the northwestern Corn Belt. There is
also a high probability in the lower Midwest.
“We’re drying out this atmosphere. The drier it is, the
quicker the temperature will change. If you get a cold surge coming and it’s not
humid out, the temperature’s going to drop like that.”
The average first freeze in St. Louis is about the 20th of
October. But that likely will be pushed up this year.
“Earlier-than-normal freeze/frost chances are good,
particularly in the lower Midwest,” Lerner said. “Not so much the Dakotas and
Minnesota, as Iowa into Illinois. I feel fairly strongly about that.”
The Missouri-Illinois region is trending toward a wet
spring, not unlike what farmers faced this year. The precipitation delayed
planting as much as four weeks for some farmers.
“The spring season is going to be an active season,” Lerner
said. “We’re looking at a strong jet stream and another possibility of a wet
start to the growing season.”
He added, however, that the winter is likely to have a drier
The relatively cool summer has not only affected the U.S.,
but across the breadth of the hemisphere. That is an extremely rare occurrence,
according to Lerner.
“Early in the year, it was just cold, not only here in North
America, but it was that way in Europe, in Asia, in just about every place in
the Northern Hemisphere,” he said. “I’ve been doing this for 34 years, and I
don’t remember another time where the whole hemisphere was colder than normal at
the same time and for such a prolonged period of time.
“This has really stirred me up a little bit. It’s pushed me
into going more cold than I would normally. In a typical year, you have cold
weather that occurs in one part of the hemisphere.”
The North Pole region, which experiences about 90 days above
freezing in a normal summer, averaged only 45 days this year. That, coupled with
long-range trends, adds to the unusual pattern.
“There was more ice accumulation in oceans up there than at
other time in the calendar year since we’ve been keeping records, back in the
early ‘70s,” Lerner said. “In reality, we don’t have a clue what’s going on
Bismarck, N.D., experienced a frost on July 26, and parts of
Wisconsin and Minnesota had frosts on Aug. 15. That portended an early frost for
the portion of the Corn Belt running through Illinois and Indiana.
“What I’ve found in the past is when we’ve had cold surges
in the summer that occurred more than once, you can use that as a forecasting
tool. Based on that, my forecast was that would be another risk of frost on the
second or third of September,” Lerner said. “We came close, but didn’t actually
Much of the Midwest will be included in a cold swath of the
country this year, according to Lerner’s interpretation of the 18-year weather
cycle that began with the cold winters of the late 1970s.
“It will be a brutal winter in the eastern part of the U.S.
from the Great Lakes region southward into the northeastern part of the
country,” he said.
“Not every interval is going to repeat exactly what has
happened in the past. Surface weather changes by other issues going on. The
point is in ‘77 and ‘78 it was cold.
“For us in this part of the country, we’ll have a cooler
bias, but it won’t be as persistent. Precipitation should be above average
throughout the winter for the Southeastern United States.”