By Jim Noel
La Nina, cooling of the eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean waters, remains in place and is classified as a weak La Nina. This means many other things will ultimately impact our weather and climate since it is weak but it will contribute to our pattern. Indications are this could linger into spring and possibly summer before ending. Regardless of when it ends, it tends to impact weather patterns in the atmosphere longer, sometimes up to three to six months later. So there will be a contribution to our climate pattern into at least the planting season if not growing season.
December to February will go down as slightly warmer and wetter than normal. Even though we had really cold periods in there, the very warm second half of February wiped all the winter cold away. Snowfall will go down in many areas as not too far from normal, a bit above or below depending on where you live. The main snow message was the snow kept coming and going away during winter.
The outlook for the rest of March is near normal temperatures and slightly wetter than normal. We do not expect March to see the really warm weather we saw in February. We will see more common periods of mild and cold.
The outlook for April calls for cooler and wetter than normal conditions with the last freeze normal or slightly later than normal. Expect 4 inch soil temperatures to track normal or slightly behind schedule.
After a slightly cooler and wetter spring (delayed planting?), there is growing risk of a turn to hotter and drier, during the summer growing season. However, within that preferred pattern, there is the risk of complexes of storms to provide intense short-term heavy rainfall and floods within a drier than normal pattern.
What this all means is this year the risk will be elevated for extreme weather and climate shifts which challenge outdoor activities such as gardening and farming. Research NOAA/NWS/Ohio River Forecast Center has done with Ohio State University and published at the National Weather Association Annual Meeting in 2008 showed La Nina years tend to be some of the most challenging for crops in Ohio. See attached graphics for corn and soybean crop yields during La Nina years. Often times corn and soybean yields end up being at or below trend line. Corn is impacted more than soybeans.