Repeat of 2019’s record wet weather ‘unlikely’ but spring flooding still a concern

By Mary Hookham for PPF

After seeing nearly 20 inches of precipitation above average last year in northeastern Wisconsin, farmers are listening closely for what’s in store as a new growing season approaches.

For attendees at the Peninsula Pride Farms 2020 conference and annual meeting on Feb. 13, the news could have been worse.

“There is not a lot of good news precipitation-wise,” said Timm Uhlmann, a meteorologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) at the weather forecast office in Green Bay. Uhlmann was a presenter at the event.

But, he said, “We’re unlikely to see another year as wet as 2019.”

The rivers around the state are full and the soil is saturated, Uhlmann said. While the long-term trend in the area is to have 2 to 3 more inches of precipitation per year now than when record-keeping began more than a century ago, he said, the weather is cyclical.

“This doesn’t mean we won’t see drier-than-average years in the future. It’s just been this last half decade or so that’s excessively wet.”

Spring flooding depends on how fast the snowpack melts and where the water flows. Uhlmann said temperatures climbing to above freezing during the day then going back to freezing overnight slows the melting process.

He said there is a chance the state will see a slow snowmelt, but even if it’s faster than farmers prefer, there is still less than a 1 percent chance of having another soggy year like 2019.

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