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 spring.”

He also projected an early frost this year for much of the Midwest.

“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 finish.

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 there.”

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 get there.”

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.”