High temps will only be in the 20s for Tuesday Wednesday and Thursday before rebounding back into the 30s for Friday and Saturday. If the temps stay in the 30s (and a little above normal) as we head into early March it should come as no surprise because we still have an El Nino driven weather pattern. In addition the latest CPC model forecasts indicate a better chance of above normal temps (than below normal temps) for Northcentral Wisconsin during March and perhaps into April as well. This is all well and fine and I am sure a lot of people would be happy with an early Spring, however we do have the lingering drought issue. If temps are above normal in March and April and precipitation remains below normal, then we will be starting off the growing season on the wrong foot.
I don’t want to start off my gardening this year by watering every other day just to get the seeds to germinate. That being said, the long-term computer outlook is indicating mostly equal chances of above or below normal temps, except in the far northern part of the state and the UP of Michigan during the March-April-May time frame. Folks in those locations are probably thinking “just great, here we go again”.
If history is our guide (although, inductive reasoning is flawed), then we have a reason to be concerned. After each of the last 4 El Nino episodes we had drier than normal weather. We never had a severe drought widespread across the entire area following El Nino, it was more like a “green drought” in most areas. We had just enough rain to keep the landscape green, but it was certainly dusty at times. The best precipitation amounts following an El Nino (over the last dozen years anyway) occurred in 1998.
That El Nino was a super El Nino with a maximum anomaly of 2.5 degrees above normal. We started out the growing season that year with wet conditions in May and then the rainfall tapered off a bit in June and July, before rebounding again in August and September. As far a growing season’s go, it was pretty decent. The other years following El Nino, 2003 (1.5 degree anomaly), 2005 (0.80), and 2007 (1.1) had significant dry spells and drought conditions at times. What is the temperature anomaly with the current El Nino? 1.8 as of the December reading. Does a stronger El Nino mean that we will have more rainfall in the Spring and Summer? Such as was the case in 1998. No guarantee, but at least it is one little data point that might be in our favor.
Have a nice Monday! Meteorologist Justin Loew.
This post was written by jloew on February 22, 2010