The current snow cover across the state shows a huge variation. Not only has western Iowa seen less snowfall this winter, they have also had more frequent periods of temperatures above freezing, thus keeping the snow pack to a minimum in that area. Parts of northeast Iowa, however, have yet to see a substantial warm up with Charles City, Northwood and Osage not seeing temperatures climb above 42 degrees since November. As of the morning of March 6 snow was gone from all but sheltered areas over parts of southwest Iowa while depths in excess of 25 inches were common across northeastern areas.
What might we expect for spring weather after this long and cold winter? The past two springs have brought an amazing variety of weather to Iowa. The spring of 2012 was the warmest of record in the state and unusually dry. Then in 2013 Iowa recorded a record wet spring along with near-record cold as well. The confidence with long-term weather outlooks is not very high. However, there is an expectation of mostly colder than normal weather for much of the remainder of March. It is worth noting that even a record cold March would still be eight degrees warmer than what we just experienced in February. The NWS spring outlook also slightly favors below normal temperatures for the period through May. There is no strong indication for spring precipitation in 2014.
Additional information and maps on the winter weather can be found at www.IowaAgriculture.gov under “Hot Topics.”
Volunteer precipitation observers sought
Accurate flood forecasting, as well as drought assessments, depend upon reliable precipitation information. The State Climatologist Office of the Iowa Dept. of Agriculture & Land Stewardship, as well as the National Weather Service, strongly encourage Iowans to become involved in a nationwide volunteer precipitation observation network known as the Community, Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network (CoCoRaHS). This network was established in Fort Collins, Colorado in 1998 in response to a serious flood event and has spread to all fifty states and parts of Canada.