About Us •  Advertising OpportunitiesContact Us

Harris-Mann Climatology Article Archive

Title: Record Mid-April Hard Freezes Kill Great Plains Wheat

Author: Climatologist Cliff Harris
Published: 4/16/2014

Last Tuesday, April 15, was the coldest “Tax Day” nationwide on record. Hard freezes extended as far south as northern Texas. Mid-April snows were seen throughout the Corn Belt states. Columbus, Ohio had nearly four inches of the white stuff on Tuesday, its heaviest snowfall ever for so late in the spring season. Traces of snow were reported in the Texas Panhandle, Arkansas and Tennessee. Even northern Louisiana had a few flakes. Detroit, Michigan set a seasonal snowfall record on Tuesday.

A hard freeze in the southern Great Plains on Tuesday produced temperatures between 21 and 24 degrees at Amarillo, Dalhart, Perry and Lubbock, Texas. Near Gage, Oklahoma, one rancher reported 18 degrees. Ponca City, Oklahoma dipped to a record low of 21 degrees for April 15.

In Kansas, the nation’s leading wheat producing state, already plagued by winterkill this harsh winter of 2013-14 that refuses to end and parching drought, there were reports of morning lows near 15 degrees both Monday and Tuesday. It was a frigid 13 degrees at Valentine, Nebraska.

Jointing wheat was damaged by the record cold early this past week in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas, especially in those areas where the mercury plunged into the teens and lower 20s for several hours. Any wheat heading out can be at risk even at readings near 30 degrees. Fortunately, there was very little wheat heading out despite recent 90 degree temperatures in the southern Great Plains.

Up near the Canada/U.S. border, the ground is still solidly frozen and snow-covered. Temperatures dipped below zero in parts of Saskatchewan and Manitoba on Monday, April 14. The -4 degrees at Prince Albert, Saskatchewan was the 100th morning since last October with lows at zero or below, an all-time record for any winter season in modern times. Grand Forks, North Dakota had 97 days of zero readings this past winter, easily breaking the previous mark of 73 such bitterly cold mornings in 1978-79, when many climate scientists were predicting “a new Little Ice Age.”

Some of our Harris-Mann farmer clients in the Dakotas, Minnesota and the Prairie Provinces of Canada may not be able to plant their 2014 crops until at least mid to late May or even early June in some cases. This means that an early frost in late August or early September would be devastating. Many farmers in the North Country may be forced into “preventive planting” by the exceptionally frigid weather conditions this winter and early spring.

Things aren’t much better weatherwise in the Corn Belt states. It was 13 degrees on “Tax Day,” April 15, at Spencer, Iowa, the coldest morning there ever recorded for so late in the season. Mason City, Iowa had 17 degrees on Tuesday. Scotts Bluff, Nebraska plunged to 15 degrees. Marquette, Michigan had a record low of 6 degrees. It was 5 degrees at International Falls, Minnesota. It was 10 degrees at Hibbing and 17 degrees at Minneapolis and Redwood Falls, Minnesota.

Other record lows reported on Tuesday included; Kirksville, Missouri and Mansfield, Ohio each with 21 degrees. It was 22 degrees at Toledo, Ohio and Moline, Illinois. Cleveland had 23 degrees. It was 24 degrees at Indianapolis, Chicago and Bristol, Tennessee. St. Louis reported 28 degrees and heavy frost. Memphis, Tennessee dipped to a record low of 30 degrees on April 16.

By extreme contrast, we’ve recently seen record warmth above the century mark in the Desert Southwest with moisture-sapping 90s in Southern California. The most severe drought in modern times lives on. There is at least a 70% chance that this huge drought pattern will push through the Midwest all the way to the western slopes of the Appalachians by July or August. (One can view our predictions for this summer nationwide and locally in North Idaho by going to YouTube and searching for Cliff Harris, Climatologist, or go to www.LongRangeWeather.com. A large 4,500 year temperature trend chart is likewise available on YouTube.)