Kansas is experiencing one of those winters many wish would end sooner rather than later. However, despite some bitterly cold days and heavy snowfall events, K-State Research and Extension climatologist Mary Knapp says soil moisture levels should be good heading into spring.
“Even in the west where they’ve missed out on that, they may be dry at the two-inch level, but when you get down there, the 8 and 20-inch levels still showing ample moisture in there. So the soil profile still has moisture in there from our fall and late summer last year, and in the west they did see quite a bit of moisture in December and January. So, it’s not by any means the situation that we were facing last year at this time where there wasn’t anything anywhere as far as moisture goes.”
While the moisture is good for the crops, Knapp says the low temperatures and increased moisture have made it a difficult winter for cow-calf producers.
“Particularly when it comes in the form of the freezing rain that we’ve seen in a number of events. That compromises the winter coats of the cows and calves and is a lot more dangerous for the survival of those animals than say a nice,light snow with temperatures in the upper 20’s-lower 30’s. So, yeah, it has been a challenging season.”
After weeks of speculation, the National Weather Service finally announced last week that we’re in an El Nino weather pattern. For Kansas, Knapp says that typically means a wetter-than-normal spring.
“At this point, it’s not particularly strong, so the influence will be less.But, again, that’s just another thumb on the scale for normal-to-wetter-than-normal conditions rather than a La Nina –which is beginning to raise its head in the long-range projections. And that typically favors hotter and drier conditions, and have a particularly strong signal for that in our late summer and into our fall.”
The K-State Research and Extension Weather Data Library, part of the K-State Department of Agronomy, provides a complete rundown of Kansas weather at ksre.ksu.edu/wdl.