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Midwest Weekly Highlights - May 1-7, 2013

Warm Start to May

After a cool reprieve to end the month of April, above normal temperatures returned to the Midwest this week (Figure 1).  Temperatures were 5-10°F above normal across most of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan.  Southern areas of the region, except Kentucky, weren’t much cooler at 4-8°F above normal. The Bluegrass State, meanwhile, was only a few degrees above normal for the period.  Well above normal average daily highs had much to do with these above normal average temperatures.  Most of the region saw average high temperatures in the 70s, with the southern half of the region averaging in the upper 70’s and lower 80’s (Figure 2).  Most of northern Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan had high temperatures 10-15°F above normal for the period (Figure 3).  High temperatures across central Illinois through Ohio were also well above seasonal averages at 7-12°F above normal.  Meanwhile, low temperatures were much closer to normal, and even below normal in Kentucky, during the period as clear skies overnight allowed the ground to cool (Figure 4).

Dry South, Wet Middle, Dry North

A variety of conditions were seen across the Midwest to start off the month of March.  The southern portions of the region continued to see dry conditions carry over from the end of April as little to no precipitation fell (Figure 5).  Departures of 1 inch or more were common across southern Illinois, Indiana, eastern Missouri and western Kentucky (Figure 6).  Wetter conditions were seen through the central portions of the region, as multiple rounds of showers and thunderstorms moved through these areas, dropping more than 2 inches of precipitation in spots.  Southeast Iowa and northern Illinois were as much as 1 inch above normal over the period.  While near normal precipitation fell in most of Minnesota, departures of 0.50 inches were seen along Lake Superior in Minnesota and Wisconsin, and in northern Lower Michigan.

Despite sporadic severe weather, every state but Kentucky had a least one storm report this week (Figure 7). Most of these severe storms moved through the region on May 3, mainly in Minnesota and northern Iowa. No significant severe weather was reported. One inch hail and high winds were reported in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area during the afternoon. A brief tornado also touched down in Dickinson County, IA on that day.

Drought Slightly Worsens

Small additions were made to the severe drought affecting Minnesota this week according to the National Drought Mitigation Center’s latest drought monitor (Figure 8).  Almost 95% of the state is dealing with drought, with nearly 40% of the state in the severe drought category.  Moderate drought conditions continued to hold in northern Wisconsin this week as over 40% of the state deals with moderate drought.  One major change occurred this week, as southwest Missouri was moved into the abnormally dry category after a dry start to the year.

Spring Planting Progressing Nicely

With drier (Figure 9) and warmer (Figure 10) weather prevailing over the calendar week from April 27-May 3, many farmers across the Midwest were able to get out to their fields and plant spring crops.  Corn planting in Iowa, Illinois and Missouri neared 70% while Minnesota has over 80% planted according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service (Figure 11).  This progress is well above the five year average for these states, with Minnesota nearly 50% above the five year average.  Drier conditions this spring in allowed for earlier planting, making Minnesota’s crop progress to this point the second highest in the past 30 years.

Anywhere from 20%-30% of the crop has been planted so far in Indiana, Michigan and Kentucky.  In Wisconsin, corn planting progress moved above 40% after only 5% of corn was planted as of last week.  Farmers across the state who planted before May 4 also enjoyed a nice soaking rain to help germination.


The National Agricultural Statistics Service also contributed to this report.