Cool climate to dominate through spring season

Farm Forum

BROOKINGS – Cooler than average temperatures are expected to persist through the remainder of the spring season in South Dakota, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center. The most recent update was released March 20, which includes projections for temperature, precipitation and drought for the spring and early summer.

“The cool Canadian flow is expected to continue well into April,” said Laura Edwards, SDSU Extension Climate Field Specialist. “The pattern that we’ve experienced the last few months is going to stay put for a while longer.”

This means, Edwards explains, that most of the state will likely have below average temperatures in April, and could linger through May and beyond for the state’s northern counties.

“This could mean a little later than normal planting for row crops and home gardens, as soil temperatures are struggling to warm up,” she said. “The national outlook did not give any clear indication of wetter or drier than normal for April. The models have not honed in on a consensus as far as precipitation in the High Plains states.”

During the last month, several climate forecasts have shown that El Nino is becoming more likely for the 2014 growing season. This can mean wetter and cooler for eastern, especially southeastern, South Dakota for May through September, Edwards said.

Some climate models have begun to show signs of wetter conditions, starting in May.

She added that the projections of wetter than average May could help crops get off to a good start.

“The shallow soil moisture across the region has only been minimally replenished by snowmelt. This last winter has been below average for snowfall, with virtually no notable major snowfall events since the devastating blizzard in October,” Edwards said. “With the exception of the Black Hills, most of the state has only received about 50 to 90 percent of average precipitation over the last three months.”

The seasonal drought outlook for the U.S. was also released this week.

“At this time, there is no indication that drought will develop in South Dakota through the month of June,” Edwards said. “The cooler and potential wetter, conditions that are forecast will reduce any potential for drought in the spring season.”

To learn more, visit