This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from the USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.
Ever wonder how USDA is able to make a forecast – either economic or weather? It takes a lot of work.
Last week, USDA’s U.S. meteorologist Brad Rippey met with producers in southwestern Michigan. The first stop, on a rainy, stormy morning, was with Bryan Bixby, owner of Bixby Orchards in Berrien Springs. Bixby described how spring wetness has been detrimental to fieldwork and crop quality. For example, wet, humid conditions shortened the southwestern Michigan strawberry season and reduced fruit quality. In addition, wetness has impeded Bixby’s efforts to complete soybean planting. During a tour of his orchards, Bixby described how the recent winter was Michigan’s harshest since 1976-77, causing substantial mortality in peach trees — requiring him to buy peaches from South Carolina in order to meet customer demand. Read more »
With landmarks missing it was difficult for even Gifford residents to locate once familiar locations.
Four months after a tornado ripped through the town of Gifford, Illinois, destroying its water tower, 70 homes, and damaging 40 others, visible and emotional aftereffects remain.
On November 17, the day the tornado touched down, I called my colleague and Gifford resident Molly Hammond, who wistfully noted during our conversation, that “Everyone is all right. But not everything is all right!”
No doubt her sentiments reflected those of Gifford’s other 1,000 residents. Read more »
This graphic shows past records and predictions based on the Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI). Provided the by U.S. Forest Service.
Weather…. We all care about it. In many communities, local TV and radio weather forecasters are celebrities, and for good reason. While we can’t do much about the weather, it affects us all every day.
During last week’s Agricultural Outlook Forum two sessions drew exceptionally large crowds. One was the Friday afternoon “Weather and Agriculture” segment and another was the morning “Markets and Weather” presentation. While no one can say for sure what the weather outlook will be for the 2014 summer growing season, Brad Rippey, agricultural meteorologist with USDA’s Office of the Chief Economist (OCE), Eric Luebehusen, OCE ag. meteorologist and Anthony Artusa, meteorologist with the Climate Protection Section of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration made some observations and predictions in the afternoon session. The snowpack in the West’s Sierra Nevada is far below normal. The Western winter wet season has been a bust, with winter precipitation less than 10 percent of average in some areas. California, the Great Basin and southern Great Plains are in drought. The meteorologists said California, the lower gulf coast and much of New Mexico, Arizona and Texas could see above normal temperatures and below normal precipitation in March, April and May. According to Rippey, “We need a miracle March in 2014 to avoid major problems in California.” The most current information is available through NOAA’s Seasonal Drought Outlook map and the USDA drought monitor. Read more »
USDA’s Agricultural Outlook Forum featured a weather outlook for 2013 during the final session of the two-day event in Arlington, Virginia. Prior to the 2013 outlook—which was presented by National Weather Service (NWS) meteorologist Anthony Artusa—USDA meteorologists Brad Rippey and Eric Luebehusen recapped some of the key U.S. and Northern Hemisphere agricultural drought highlights, respectively, from the summer of 2012. In particular, the U.S. heartland suffered through its worst agricultural drought in a generation, with effects similar to those observed in 1988. Grain corn was the hardest-hit U.S. row crop, while the livestock sector was severely affected by a lack of feed due to drought-ravaged rangeland and pastures. Meanwhile, a hotter-, drier‐than‐normal summer impacted crops from southern Europe into central and eastern Russia. Hardest-hit crops included corn in Italy, Romania, and Bulgaria, as well as spring wheat in Russia’s Siberia District. Read more »
Approximately 88% of the corn grown in the U.S. is within an area experiencing drought, based on historical NASS crop production data. (Click to enlarge map)
Visit www.usda.gov/drought for the latest information regarding USDA’s Drought Disaster response and assistance.
The drought of 2012 has rapidly expanded and intensified, covering 64% of the contiguous United States – according to the U.S. Drought Monitor – by July 17. Three months ago, that figure stood at 37%, and at the beginning of the year, only 28% of the lower 48 states had drought coverage. Read more »
Satellite image with enhanced low cloud-top temperatures for 6:45 a.m. EST (NOAA)
Weekend thundershowers provided limited and localized relief to a few Midwestern fields, but most of the Corn Belt remains in dire need of moisture. Currently, very hot weather is building back into the Midwest. High temperatures above 100°F can be expected in portions of the western Corn Belt for the remainder of the week. The eastern Corn Belt should experience some mid- to late-week heat relief, but only scattered showers will accompany the transition to cooler weather. Like last week, substantial drought relief will be confined to the Southeast. Read more »