Tick, tick, tick, tick.
Every day, it seems, we wake up to the same cold gray skies. The garden, whose early crops were planted in a brief window of improbable warmth, remains to wet and raw to do anything with. The seedlings in the basement grow taller.
It seems like we’re stuck. Will it ever be warm and sunny again?
Today seems like an appropriate time to ask what we may be looking forward to for the growing season ahead, according to our experts in the predicting biz.
First up: The Farmers’ Almanac. This publication divides its forecast areas into large regions. Kansas and Missouri are included in Region 4, which also covers Iowa, Minnesota, both Dakotas, Nebraska, Montana, Wyoming and Colorado.
The Farmers’ Almanac has long-range forecasts which cover the regions and also an “outlook” which is a narrative of weather for the whole country through June. Unfortunately, what the editors had in both those forecasts was–well, not too helpful.
Changeable? Unsettled? Showery? Those are all pretty good bets for early spring in the Midwest. The “outlook” told us April will be unsettled and May “clear and pleasant.” For the whole country.
The long-range forecast is broken down into periods of a few days, which is a bit more of a trick. But there’s precious little mention of precipitation or temperature variations from normal. Knowing it will be unsettled April 16-19 in this huge area of the country might help you plan a golf outing, but it doesn’t do much for gardeners.
So on to the next stop: The Old Farmer’s Almanac. I don’t know who this old farmer is, but I like her (his?) prediction system a lot better. The United States is carved into much smaller pieces more likely to share the same weather. Kansas City is in the “Heartland” along with Topeka, Des Moines, Omaha and St. Louis.
The Old Farmer says we’ll have an average temp of about 52 degrees in April, which is two degrees below normal. The precip will be slightly below normal in the western half of this area.
As for the rest of the growing season,
Summer will be drier and slightly cooler than normal, on average, despite hot spells in mid-June, early July, and mid- to late August.
September and October will be much cooler and drier than normal.
That sounds like an average summer here. Difficult and ill-timed hot spells the rise up to overshadow the fact that the whole summer has been cooler. Nothing too new here.
Of course the various farmers don’t advertise their prediction process. We may assume that some of it involves science. But there’s no guarantee. For science, we go to the Climate Prediction Center of the National Weather Service.
The NWS provides a three-month outlook map for the whole US in the form of a color-coded map. But it looks like a coin toss for our area, with equal odds that it will be normal, above or below average in both temperature and precip.
So it sounds like business as usual. A quick check with some local weather forecasters shows the cold gray should be ending soon. Maybe by this weekend, we can get back out there and put in some beets and carrots.
Until then, we’ll be dreaming of the perfect growing season.
Poster by: Roxie