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Expect Drought Conditions to Persist Throughout June
Michigan Ag Connection - 06/07/2023

The large and persistent upper air ridge across the Upper Midwest responsible for the current abnormally warm and dry weather across Michigan during much of late May and early June is expected to continue throughout June.

According to Michigan State University Extension Agricultural Meteorologist Jeff Andresen, drier-than-normal weather and very high levels of evapotranspiration across many sections of the state since early May have rapidly depleted topsoil moisture levels, with water stress symptoms now becoming very visible.

“Climatologically, such conditions are unusual in Michigan early in the growing season, especially the combination of abnormally high temperatures, low humidity, and high potential evapotranspiration rates,” Andresen said.

The evolution of the amplified upper air pattern across North America with large ridging and troughing features will be critical in determining the end of the current dryness and a return to more normal weather.

“The majority of latest medium-range forecast guidance suggests a slow westward shift of the upper ridge currently over the region during the next couple of weeks,” Andresen said.

While such a shift should lead to more northwesterly flow aloft and cooler temperatures and lower potential evapotranspiration rates, don’t expect significant relief to the current dryness in the short-term.

“The revised Climate Prediction Center outlook for the month of June now calls for a continuation of warmer- and drier-than-normal weather statewide across Michigan,” Andresen said. “That’s a change from the earlier version which had called for equal chances or ‘no direction’ outlooks for both mean temperatures and precipitation totals.”

According to Andresen, May precipitation totals ranged from less than 1” across large sections of central and southern Lower Michigan and extreme western sections of the Upper Peninsula, running 20% to 50% of normal.

Much of northwestern Lower and eastern Upper Michigan, received more than 2” while the central Upper Peninsula recorded more than 4” due to a spring snowstorm May 1 - 3.

The warm, dry weather in late-May allowed rapid progress of spring planting, near optimal conditions for first cutting and harvesting of forages, and reduced levels of most fungal plant diseases.


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