Farmers hit with weather whiplash

Photo by Stephen L Harlow [p0ps harlow] via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Yesterday, Peggy Lowe of Harvest Public Media reported for NPR on the wet conditions farmers in the Midwest are confronting this spring, in strong contrast to last summer. She describes,

As Chris Webber checked the 40 acres of muddy field he wanted to plant on a recent morning, he worried about getting more rain, even as he worried about the lack of it.

“The drought is over at the moment,” he says. “But in Missouri, we tend to say that in 10 days or two weeks, we can be in a drought again. That’s how fast it can get back to dry.”

Midwestern farmers like Webber, who has a family farm in central Missouri, are suffering from “weather whiplash,” according to meteorologist Jeff Masters. In the past three years, there’s been flooding, then record-setting drought, and now flooding again.

“It’s a term I’m going to be using a lot in the coming years, I think, because the jet stream patterns that we’re familiar with have changed in the last few years,” says Masters, who co-founded Weather Underground. “They’ve slowed down, exposing us to longer periods of extreme weather, and they’ve gotten more extreme.”

Find the full text and audio versions of the story here.

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