April 2016 Climate Outlook & March Climate Review
The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center March 31, 2016 report calls for warm and dry conditions throughout South Dakota in the month ahead.
“There has been good consistency among the climate computer models in predicting warmer than average temperatures,” says Laura Edwards, SDSU Extension Climate Field Specialist. “That trend is continuing in April and projected to hold on through the growing season.”
Edwards added that seasonal climate trends and a strong El Nino also impact this climate forecast. “Over the winter and early spring season, the climate outlooks have been pretty accurate, particularly when it comes to the temperature projections,” she said.
A review of the past month shows that the warmer than average forecast from previous months has held true.
“Despite cooler conditions during the latter half of March, the month overall was much warmer than average,” said Dennis Todey, South Dakota State Climatologist & SDSU Extension Climate Specialist.
He added that statewide conditions were 4 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit above average ranging from around 4 degrees Fahrenheit above average in the southwest to 8-10 degrees above average Fahrenheit in the far northeast. “The cooler conditions during the latter half of the month were beneficial in slowing early green-up and dormancy break of various perennials,” Edwards explained.
Had we experienced very warm weather throughout the month, Edwards said it could have put wheat and horticultural crops at some frost risk because the state is still ahead of average for its historical latest freeze dates.
For April, the precipitation outlook across the region has shifted from equal chances of wetter or drier conditions, to leaning towards drier than average. All but the southwest corner of South Dakota is projected to have drier than average conditions.
“The impacts of this could be mixed, as fieldwork, spring planting, as well as recreational activities, are typically in full swing in April,” Edwards said. “Warm and dry conditions could bode well for those who desire to work and play outdoors.”
Edwards added that during the month of April, we usually depend on our climatological rainfall to ramp up and bring moisture to yards, gardens and crops.
Over the last couple of months, the U.S. Drought Monitor has gradually increased the area of Abnormally Dry (D0) in South Dakota based on that dryness.
“A dry April could bring more awareness and concern for drought development, particularly in the northern and northeastern counties,” Edwards said.
Looking back on the month of March, precipitation was variable. “The southeast and southwest were generally above average with the rest of the state below average. A few locations in the far northeast ranked in the top 10 driest for March,” Edwards said. “A number of weather stations throughout the state were in the top 20 wettest on record.”
Edwards said the wet conditions in the southeast are likely to slow planting somewhat, as preparations for the start of corn planting approaches. Areas across the north have noted somewhat dry soils. “The dryness will be helpful initially in getting planted, but additional precipitation will be needed soon to help crop progress,” Edwards said.