June 17, hot and harvest.
Today the heat index was 108 degrees. Temps in the high 90s and dews in the low 70s. Very nasty to people/animals, good harvest weather. We cut on my best looking farm in the afternoon while in the morning I planted milo and Jeremy fixed things and hauled load to the elevator. Jeremy had to stop and fix some missing bolts on Grandma's combine, then later the sickle belt broke. I kept cutting. We didn't have Grandma's tandem truck to haul as the master brake cylinder went kaput. Jeremy was able to get a new belt in Salina while hauling a load to the elevator. He joined me cutting the last field and we finished around 8. It was sad to see thunderstorms develop 20 miles south and 25 miles east of our farm---we really need rain bad. At least the cool frontal passage will bring highs tomorrow down into the 80s---a relief for us.
June 18, a cool lazy day.
Today (Sunday) we went to church and ran a few errands in Salina. It was cool, only in the low 80s. It had sprinkled during the night and with little wind today, things didn't dry out fast. Most people including us, started late in the afternoon cutting. We moved to Jeremy's last rental and the moisture seemed questionable. We cut about 2/5 of the "driest" wheat we could find. After that I moved hay of alfalfa ground. I would say that we are around 3/5 done with harvest now.
June 19, broke down, no cutting.
Every thing we touched seemed to break down today. Cultivator wheel bearing in Saline county, header trailer wheel bearing out, then when Jeremy started to cut with grandma's machine, the main driver wheel snapped off with the big wheel almost departing from the machine. Tomorrow I have a Dr. visit and with running for repairs not much will happen. Jeremy and the hired boy moved a lot of alfalfa off the fields with approximately 150 bales yet to move. I have one more farm to plant milo on then can finish up planting forage sorghum.
June 20, all fixed up, cutting again, then severe storm.
I spent all morning getting repair parts then went to my Drs. appointment in the afternoon. Jeremy and the hired hand got the final drive and driver wheel on Grandma's combine and it was ready to go. I got home around 4:30ish and took the grain cart to Jeremy's rental and started cutting. We were in a severe watch with storms in the Russell area. I thought these storms would move south and miss us which they did. What happened though, was new storms built east of the severe storms and moved right at us. I filled the grain cart and the combine bin getting within 3 acres of finishing this farm. Grandma brought me a tarp to cover the combine bin and I just finished that when the storm hit. Blinding rain, nickel hail and 50 mph winds roared in. I really got pelted when I closed the gate to the property. I couldn't find the wiper switch or get Jeremy's old truck into 4x4 so I was driving mostly blind. I then drove the truck into the ditch and was stuck. I waited out the short duration storm then consulted Jeremy on the cell phone to find 4x4 on his truck. I couldn't back out but rocked forward and drove all the way into the ditch, got momentum and drove back on the road and back home. The wind destroyed our old cattle trailer and the hail destroyed one 4 acre field we hadn't cut yet. Our neighbor got devastated by falling oak trees and spent the next morning cutting her a way out of her yard. We got .6" rain and the hail devastated my best wheat fields but they were already cut. Whew!
June 21, short day of harvesting.
We spent the entire morning helping our neighbor lady clean up storm damaged trees, clearing a pathway for her to get her car out of her yard. My instinct on where to cut wheat was very accurate. All of our cut fields were hard hit by hail. Our uncut fields were not. Late this afternoon Jeremy and hired hand moved to Grandma's Saline county ground. We cut off one field and I got the milo planted there. I also got most of the forage sorghum planted while Jeremy cut wheat. Hopefully we will finish there and move back home.
June 22, a good day.
We started to cut earlier today. Afternoon temps reached 100 with a south wind at 20. We finished Grandma's and moved home. I cut a semi load out of my next to last farm. Forecast is for cloudy and cool right through the weekend. Don't know how much we'll be able to cut. One more day like today, we'd finish but probably not now. I see the end in sight.
June 24, harvest over.
I finished cutting around 4 Pm. today. Yesterday and today the weather has been very cool with clouds in the morning but warm and dry in the late afternoon. We could cut until dark yesterday and still covered some acres. Today we hauled to the elevator then cut the last 8 acre patch. Yield has been fantastic for the most part but price is really low. Last year, everyone had great yields but us. We has frost and disease and hail damage last year which made this year more enjoyable to cut good wheat. Now, if it would only rain. We are very dry.
June 30, finally, rain.
After missing many opportunities for rain, we got a decent rain last night from the severe storms. This morning the gauge had a "short" inch in it. I planted a small field of milo in Saline county and hit solid moisture. The other thing that happened was after I sold my wheat to pay seed, fertilizer and chemical bills, there was a sky rocket rise in the wheat price. It went up around .50 cents a bushel in TWO days.
July 10, very dry and hot.
Todays high temp was 104 with a dew point of 57. Salina is leading the state with hi highs and lowest dews except way out west. This shows our dryness as we have missed rains most every one else has been getting. Dry ground heats up quicker and carries less moisture in the air. For an example---alfalfa hay dries completely out and only bales well at sunrise to 9 am. A smaller and smaller window for baling. As for my transplant possibility, KU called and wanted me to do a new meld score test a month early. I dropped 3 points which will put me off the list in a month. I really need to get away for a few days and recharge but our KU rep. said to stay close the list with my blood type is short. To other things. I got my big tractor from the shop after a 3 week stay. Now, we're back to having all our tractors in operation which is good, but we're behind on our wheat ground tillage. I just have to figure how to pay for the work.
July 11, searing heat.
It got to 106 in Salina today. There was gusty winds with the heat as well. Jeremy and I worked and worked the last two days to get the irrigation pump to prime and finally, this afternoon we got it to pump water. The soybeans next to the trees on the creek are seared brown today. The rest of the beans are hanging on. Prairie hay standing in the meadows is going backwards as I get only the second cutting of alfalfa up. Wheat ground that is weedy is so hard that the disc doesn't go into the ground very far. All this is normal hot & dry weather. With above normal rain from Jan. through June, it doesn't surprise me that we've turned dry. A major trough off the west coast with a deep trough along the eastern sea board guarantees a high pressure ridge over the plains/intermountain area which gives us this hot and dry. It will take a major change in the tropical pacific to buckle this pattern we're in. Or maybe a major hurricane moving north from Texas so we'll wait and see.
July 19, Wednesday, heat returns, dry.
After a slight cooling last weekend, temps rose to 103 in Salina yesterday. Today, at noon, the temp was 97, dew of 68 with high temp expected 104. We've had thunder and sprinkles the last two mornings with no measureable rain. Milo and beans are firing now and going backwards every day. My cattle are already restless and are getting out to find better grazing in their minds. Fixing fence after them, I discovered that our southern creek has dried up so two out of the three creeks are dry. The third one will stop running this week. No irrigating. I'm ready to cut prairie hay meadows and get what I can there. There will be 55% of what we got last year. We will have to be very careful about grass fires as most all pastures will burn now. This current heat spell will extend to Sat. then cool somewhat. The models hint at a pattern change in a week or two but nothing definite. Hope it's true since any pattern change would be better than what we are in now. As to my health. New bloodwork shows me better and at the beginning of August, I might be off the transplant list. I do know that my disease is taking more muscle and I find it harder and harder to work and do things on the farm. The heat has whacked my blood sugar (or something) and it's out of control.
July 20, hottest day so far.
I was waiting out the hottest part of the day in the house. I checked the current conditions and Salina was 107 with a dew of 58. The 58 dew point tells me that the heat spell has sucked out moisture in the air so no higher heat index. Unfortunately this also shows the dryness of the vegetation (crops) in the island around Salina. I'll head out now as I can stand the heat but not the high humidity.
July 21, high temp. today 109. Heat breaks Sunday. Two more days.
July 22, extreme heat, then rain.
An approaching wind shift (cool front?) caused pre frontal compression and spiked the afternoon temp. Salina may have gotten to 111. Storms erupted after 4 pm. to our north/northwest and moved very little due to almost non-existent upper level winds. The outflows from these storms started new storms in our area. While there were numerous storms in the area, precip was very spotty. We did get .65" out of all the activity and it certainly helped. The rain cooled air is refreshing. Hope we can catch more rain yet this weekend or the first of next week. We sell our fall born calves next Thursday. Hoping that the temps for that day is lower than this week.
July 26, hot, humid, a little rain. We sell fall born calves tomorrow.
Yesterday the temp. was 101 and windy out of the south. Last night we got .25" of rain then today over the noon hour, got .25" more. The roads were greasy but we still could position cattle for tomorrows sale. Todays temp was in the mid 90s but almost 70 dew point making for an easy sweat factor. Temps are supposed to be in the high 80s for the weekend, really breaking the heat spell we've had.
July 31, pattern change.
The weather pattern change that was talked about (MJO), has happened. Last Thursday a front passed through with some showers and temps have stayed in the 80s for the most part. Today at 10 am., there is light rain and 71 for a temp. The big winner for rain is southwest Kansas/eastern Colorado where there is even flooding occurring. Some long range forecasters are calling for cool and dry for us until mid August then hot again. We'll see. At least by that time, September will be near with at least cooler nights. Just hope we get a couple of timely rains for the spring planted crops.
August 6, cool and dry.
The weather has stayed cool and dry for us. Temps range from the 70s to low 80s. Lots of rain has fallen here and there but not here where we need it desperately. Liz and I took a short week off for my vacation, going to Topeka and Kansas City. Nice to be able to sleep in. We picked that area to be closer to KU Med. if I get called for transplant. New blood work shows my liver function is better which lowered my "meld score" to a 14. So, we are off the call list as of now, then time will tell whether the score will increase again and I will be back on call again. Activities on the farm is finishing putting up prairie hay and some of the alfalfa (it has grown as much as it can and now has run out of moisture so is blooming) as well as working wheat ground.
August 10, still dry.
The weather has been cool and dry. We just can't buy a rain. The last two days we've had beautiful storms to our northwest where in earlier times this year they have given us bountiful rains. These storms turned hard right and we get only a sprinkle. Mom nature is not helping us and we are in trouble.
August 14, still dry and still not on call.
After several days of cooler than normal, today temps warmed up to around normal (95). Still no rain though. Tomorrow night is our best chance for meaningful rain for the week. I did some bloodwork today in Salina and my meld score for transplantation is the same as the last one. So, I'm still off the call list. We'll see the transplant Dr. in KU med next Monday during my regular checkup so will see about that.
August 16, then there was rain.
Before I went to bed last night, I ran the short range model that is pretty accurate. It showed the scattered storms that bubbled up during the late afternoon (in the area) moving out of the area or dissipating. Of more importance, the model showed a line of storms moving through our area between midnight and Wed. morning. At around 4 am. the weather radio alerted for counties just to our west for a thunder storm warning. The line moved through and we got at least 3/4". Now, most of the crops look much better. Every thing looks better after a rain.
August 29, catching up.
Been busy and haven't posted lately. Liz and I visited the KU transplant Dr. e-clips day. His main point was if he could give me quality of life without a new liver, it's a winning situation. I'm still on the transplant list but not on call. Even with a meld score of 17, there was little chance of getting a new liver. We did not stay in KC for the e-clips as Liz had to get back for work. We viewed it from west of Salina and to me, it was a large bust. Jeremy and Meghan went to Nebraska. He said at totality, the town lights came on and he could see stars. That's real cool. We had dried out on the farm due to a few high 90s temps and were desperate to get rain. A few days ago we had a good chance for moisture. A cool front coupled with high moisture, (dew point in the 70s) seemed to have promise. NOT! Bad timing of frontal passage coupled with no upper support along the southward moving front nixed our chance for rain. Then on Sunday morning,(Aug. 27) a mesoscale convective complex dropped out Nebraska and we got .75". I shot the moon and drilled alfalfa seed deep into this moisture (I hope it lasts) hoping to get a stand. Jeremy is trying to get caught up with discing wheat ground. This moisture will help fill milo heads and stop soybean yield loss (for a while) but won't last too long. I'm not seeing any pattern change in the short term so we will go into fall very dry to drought. Longer term is a toss up. We've been in this northwesterly flow aloft (dry, to mostly dry, omega block) for much of the summer. A pattern change may happen either as we go into deep fall, (Octoberish) or winter, (Decemberish) but for now, we're stuck in this dry pattern.
September 5, drought!
We missed a couple of minor chances for rain, so really dry again. Three quarters of an inch doesn't last long. I've finished working wheat ground that needed to be worked and have started to check fall calving cows. Here is problems I see due to dry weather. (Not listed in any particular order).
1.As the pasture grass cures past 50% (about there), wildfires will be more frequent.
2.Pasture grass has not grown much since mid July so the cattle are eating grass down to the ground. This means much less grass for winter grazing hence we have to feed more hay. (hope we have enough)
3.Spring planted crops will NOT be bin busters at all.
4.Planting wheat starting in October. Do I plant deep to try to hit meager moisture risking a heavy rain after planting? Do I plant shallow so the seed is in the ground waiting for a rain? Or do I wait and don't plant until rain moistens the soil, risking a late planting (end of October) that produces tender wheat plants going into winter?
5.Back to grazing grass, cattle will be hard to keep in as they clean up their grass in pastures, a big headache.
So, dry weather makes low dew points. Dry air heats easier and cools easier so I expect continued changeable temps. and not much rain. I'm still watching a upper low carving out a trough in the gulf of Alaska. Not sure how this will play out for the future. Also after being inactive for around a month, the Madden Julian pattern is starting to get a little more active. The upshot from this is maybe a pattern change in 10 to 14 days. Unfortionately this may just shift into a different phase of a dry pattern for us. Anyway, the low temp. in the morning is supposed to be in the middle 40s.
Sunday Sept 10, still dry.
The forecast for much of next week is hot and dry. The upper flow pattern may be disrupted by Irma unfavorably for us delaying the potential pattern shift. If Irma moves up the east coast, it will help us get into a southwesterly flow aloft, a more favorable rain producer. But, if it's remnant moves to Tennessee, it will cause the flowage to stack and hold an upper high over us longer. Anyway, by next weekend there should be SLIGHT chances of rain due to persistant low pressure to our west (instead of a upper high ridge) coupled with a tropical system merging and passing over or near us. Anyway, time will always tell. In the meantime, I've been swathing and baling forage sorghum as it is going backwards in growth (burning to a crisp due to no moisture and above normal temps.). Just trying to get the most hay we can now as winter grazing grass will be short this winter. A big complication would be snow covering grass this winter making feeding extra hay necessary. I was working wheat ground and discovered where I burned, there was moisture about 4" down. Where I didn't burn, there was no moisture. I also noticed this week that the soybeans were coloring (turning yellow, mature) so the dry and hot accelerated that this year. Milo that was growing on the good bottom ground has made grain. Upland milo is pretty non existent in grain production. Some of my deeper planted alfalfa did come up but not in the tractor tracks and not much on the side hill. So, I hope it will hang on till winter then next spring I can inter seed with more seed for a adequate stand. If it rains.
Sept. 11, unlucky day on the farm.
Checked the Madden Julian website update this evening. Unfortunately the MJO activity died, taking one of my hopes for a pattern change. Ex-hurricane Irma is moving to Memphis (as predicted) where on satellite she's stacking up two upper lows on the west coast. Before we can get some rain chances, we have to get rid of the ole gal. Until then, (next weekend), the heat will build. On the farm, the swather broke down again. I had already got parts in Salina for breakdown occurring last night. While I did mandatory med. tests mandated by KU Med. this morning, I got the parts only to break down late this afternoon. Then, this evening, I went to a pasture where Liz and I discovered our second calf heifers had had a bunch of calves early. Last fall, my bull crawled in with these heifers and now I got 11 new calves. Well anyway, I was checking a stretch of fence while leaving the pasture. Some how, the shifter on the truck came undone and I couldn't get into reverse or any gear and was stranded. I called mom and she came and picked me up as Jeremy and Liz were busy. We'll try to figure that out tomorrow in the daylight. Such a fun day.
Sept. 12, morning addition.
Things in the weather forecast has changed as I checked weather this morning. What caught my eye was SPC's outlook having a slight risk to our north 4 days in advance. I checked some models and saw that old lady Irma gets shoved out of the US. (She got rain as close as Missouri to us). The upper winds start flowing west to east. A upper trough comes through in 4-5 days pushing the upper high away from us. More exciting was a second upper trough positioned to move through next week mid to late time period. With no high pressure to have to go over it's top, this low plows right at us. It actually looks like a spring severe setup! I should write this on my storm page but we are so desperate for rain that I'm writing it here. Models are models and this is the first time it shows this setup. Models flip flop usually early on but it looks like the beginning of a pattern change. We'll see and hope.
The yard grass is brown. No more mowing.
Picture of Jeremy's milo field. The milo on the upper ground isn't as good as the bottom part of the field.
Jeremy's bottom part of the field where the soil is better and holds more moisture longer.
Even the sumac is turning color early.
Picture of a pasture that is grazed shorter than usual. Also it's turning brown, cured by the dryness and heat.
Another brownish cured pasture.
Soybeans turning color early.
Good water in ponds from last spring's heavy rains. Glad to have that or we would be hauling water to the cattle.
Last August 26, we got .75" rain. The next day I planted alfalfa taking a big chance it would come up.(germinate) Hard to see in the picture, but a lot of it came up except the hill side and the tractor tracks.
I'm in the midst calving first calf heifers. I'm almost half done calving these heifers.
I have these heifers calve a little bit older so they are closer to Mature weight.
I have one good field of milo. It's on good bottom land that holds more moisture.
A close up picture of the milo heads shows pretty good grain made. The variety is DeKalb medium/late maturity.
September 25, and then there was rain.
The long advertised pattern change with it's attendant trough, finally arrived. We had another week of low to upper 90s temps last week as the low pressure moved towards us. Hurricane Maria has stacked up the west to east upper wind flow. Rain forecast was put back which is always a dangerous thing for the chances. Sunday, there was rain showers all around but not on my farm. Even through the night, radar showed multiple areas of rain. It never happened here. I was checking and feeding cattle Monday morning when light rain began to fall. I finished and came home. After I got home, the sky opened up with lightning and heavy rain. It's still raining lightly but there is a strong 1.9" in the gauge. Now, we've got moisture to germinate weedy grasses then later, wheat. Alfalfa will fill out and so will the later planted milo. So much relief to finally get rain. PS. At 4 pm, still raining lightly with 2.6" in the gauge. Final total 2.9".
October 2, Work piling on.
I haven't posted much as I've hibernated a day or so after the rain. Then, it was on to rainy day projects. One of my interests was 6 heifers whom escaped their pasture and I couldn't find them. I spent part of many days scouting neighbors pastures, then last evening I saw them while cutting soybeans. They were hiding in a nearly dry creek-bed. This morning, we worked them out of their sanctuary, driving them into our pasture that had cows in it. We'll see if they stay. We sell spring born calves in less than 2 weeks and I'm still not set up in my pastures to catch them. We've had a few warm windy days so I put down some alfalfa and got two fields baled today. I also finished another field of soybeans (weedy) so getting past half done with bean cutting. Last week I put in my wheat fertilizer wants to crop service. Now, I'm on pins and needles for them to apply so we can start planting. I always start planting wheat the first of Oct. With rain in the forecast with the pattern change I'm very nervous, (after a bone dry summer Ha) I might get behind on my planting. Our fall calving cows should start calving any day now so will have to routine check pastures for new calves. As you can see, lots of things happening on the farm at once.
Oct. 4, rain comes again.
Last night I had a bad night and was up and down all night. During the up times, I checked the radar since heavy rain was forecasted. About 5 am. it started to rain and thunder some. At 9 there was 1.5" in the gauge. No farm work today as it is still raining lightly. Like I thought. Mom Nature forgot to rain during the summer when we need it. Now, she's trying to make it up when we don't need it so much.
October 8, more rain.
Mom nature is still trying to even out the deficient she made last summer. We got 1.3" of rain again. No wheat planting in the near term as well as other crops that can't be cut (beans, milo and alfalfa). Forecast for light showers tomorrow afternoon then a warmup to next weekend and dry. I can't remember not planting wheat at this date and October is already about 1/3 over. We could get a little frost in a couple of days but that would come at a "normal" time and not hurt much other than the newly planted alfalfa which the recent rains have just sprouted. I have not much patience but will have to take what the weather gives me, knowing that the soil profile is getting soaked again (a good thing going into winter). So, the weather pattern change continues with a high pressure ridge just west of the US west coast which causes low troughing over the US inter mountain to the plains, (a wetter pattern for us than before)and high pressure over or in the area of the southeast US. Also, I'm seeing a gradual cooling of the Pacific ocean waters which portends a La-Nina pattern to emerge this winter. I've seen past La-Ninas in the winter be cold and dry and or stormy with changeable temps. Next spring, if La-Nina is still going or developing, severe weather/tornado outbreaks have been linked to spring time La-Ninas. Time will tell.
Oct. 16, drying out.
The weather has been sunny and breezy. I'm planting wheat. So far, an interesting weather pattern has been transisioned to. A fast zonal jet across the US. with a tendancy for a high pressure ridge in the west, with a trough in the eastern US. This is a dryer pattern with some chances of rain around once a week. How long this pattern stays depends on many factors. The big factor is the Madden Julian Oscillation. Last week it flared up and if continued, will alter our pattern in around two weeks so we'll see what comes of it.
Sunday October 22.
It looks like the growing season will end this week (Friday). The pattern is a ridge on the west coast with a trough over the plains to eastern plains. We missed the rain yesterday and I'm plugging along planting wheat. Grandma's cattle sale last week went pretty well. Milo is testing 14.5 but that should be lower Monday and Tuesday so will leave the wheat field for that. I have one late planted soybean field to cut also. As I said before. The pattern has opened the north door with a progression of cold fronts moving in turning things cooler and cooler. This is also a dry pattern. As much as it has set farming back, I'm glad we got all the rain we got. We may need all of it.
Monday Oct. 23.
Monday evening is when the update of the Madden Julian Oscillation comes in. Tonight it shows a huge signal ongoing last week. The "take" for us is a potential pattern change again. The pattern we are in is a ridge/trough combo that is a cold and dry one. The potential change from this is a retrogression of the Pacific cost ridge back to the west with low pressure trough in the central plains. This means a stormier pattern for us as hinted by a forecaster on the am radio for the end of the first week of November. Meanwhile, I'm about 3/4 done planting wheat. Today I cut a load of milo, 866 bushels at 14.6 moisture, 59.7#. This is off my best milo field. Seems we can't get away from tending cattle at the end of the grazing season draws near. Still very busy as we race to take advantage of the mild dry weather at present.
Gus hauling some potatoes I dug out of the garden. Ham, Jeremy's dog gives a smile of approval.
Jeremy's first pictures from his drone (birthday) of me swathing my first cut milo field. It was on my best ground and yielded 93 bu. per acre. Not bad for a droughty summer.
While waiting to talk to the sheriff deputy about the abundance of vehicle break-ins, Jeremy flew his drone out to where I was trying to cut replanted soybeans. I finally gave up cutting because there was as much pigweed seed in the bin as was soybeans. Soybean harvest is now over.
October 28, growing season ends.
It got down to the low 20s last night, effectively ending this year's growing season. I'm still trying to plant wheat and do cattle moves. We have to be off leased land Nov. 1 with our cows. Yesterday, Jeremy's milo tested 17 so will wait on that. Most milo takes 3 days to dry down after a hard freeze. I'm having trouble with the grain drill and that's slowing planting progress. Dang, it's cold outside.
Sunday night Oct. 29.
Today was a glorious day with temps in the upper 70s, a pre frontal compression situation. I'll get a better handle on the weather tomorrow when the first of the week data comes in. That said, it looks as if a transition to a more west to east straight upper flow (zonal) towards the end of next week. After a cool first half of a week, temps should be more "normal" with not "much" rain. I finished another farm of wheat planting tonight. I have a Saline county farm to plant then my double crop ALS resistant weedy soybean fields to plant then I'm done wheat planting. I have several lease pastures to take cattle out of by Nov. 1. We have hay down in the row and the milo will be dry to cut. What do I do first???
October 31, then there was snow.
There was a compact upper low traversing in from the southwest. The forecast was for maybe light precip. for today. I looked at this low on satellite last night and it looked stronger to me. Radar showed this morning, a area of precip. coming in from the west that kept regenerating itself. It started to snow around 10 and kept at it until 3 pm. The grassy areas were covered with 1/2" of snow. The snow melted off pretty well at sunset. We needed the moisture but this event was just shy of doing real good for the wheat. At least there was little wind so no damage to the uncut milo occurred. Tomorrow, 60 degrees will feel like summer. We did no fieldwork due to the snow so we moved cattle home from leased summer pastures, a long day.
November 4, wading through wheat planting.
Sounds like we've had lots of water by my heading. No, just a plenty of stupid things that slow one down accomplishing one's task. Chains break, clutch cables break, tires go flat all necessitate a 2.5 hour run somewhere for repairs. The daylight is short. But, I can finally say that I am down to my last field to plant.!!! The weather pattern has changed to a complicated east west flow aloft. This results in cloudy, damp, cool weather. This is probably due to tropical thunderstorms being robust (MJO) So, when the MJO subsides, the pattern changes again. We've got hay to bale and milo to cut when the air dries out and the sun shines.
Nov. 6, a weather look ahead.
Wheat planting is done. I moved home more of my fall pairs of cows/calves from one of my rentals. Only 10 pairs left there. We help our neighbors haul cattle the next 3 days, then back to finishing hauling the rest of our cattle. Today, the sun shined all day (a real treat). Jeremy cut some milo in the afternoon (15.8 moisture) and baled in the morning. Forecast is for more clouds for a couple of days. Looking ahead, the madden Julian oscillation has subsided this week. La nina is becoming more of a force than the MJO so a tricky effect that we might have to wait to see. Right now, the pattern is a trough on, to just off the west coast and a high pressure gyre over old Mexico creating a fast, rippling west to east flow over Kansas. This brings changeable weather with clouds and cool temps. The speed of the flow does not let a low to wind up for a big precip. event.
Nov. 11, a good day.
I got many cattle moves done today. Just about set for winter feeding. I've got around 85-90 fall calves on the ground now. We've started to cut milo but are running into moisture problems. Today, it misted all day so moved cattle instead of cutting milo. We need rain for the newly planted wheat and the cool temps are holding it back. Talking about weather. We will continue to get cloudy and cool weather until late next week when there might be a little more warming. I.ve mentioned the upper high pressure system (gyre) over old Mexico. It remains rock solid so the tendency for ridging aloft over the plains will continue. This tendency shunts low pressures north of Kansas as well as weakens the low to just a wind shift out of the north. I think that this high needs to be moved east or west, then we can get an upper low with some rain/snow to give us some needed top soil moisture.
Nov. 16, a look at Thanksgiving weather.
The sun actually shined the last two days. Jeremy and I cut milo this afternoon. It was too wet but I've got many commitments between now and Thanksgiving so it's now or never---well, almost. Only two fields left to cut. Cattle moves are done and I'm settling down to a winter feeding routine. Now to weather. We've been in a "Rexy" pattern,(where there is a low over a high pressure near the west coast. As I have said before, the high over old Mexico needs to move. Well it has slowly moved west towards Baja. What that does is another variant of northwest flow aloft (cool and dry for us). But Thanksgiving week always has a "WHOW" factor in the area in past years, so my guard is up. Looking forward at the models. The American model is very messy and shows little. The European model shows a system moving through the plains the weekend after Thanksgiving. Looking at the hemispheric satellite shows strong low pressure cores building (more like bunching up) in the gulf of Alaska. Should the Mexico high move farther to the west (retrograding), it might help to pull the Alaska lows southward along the northwest coast, then swing them through the plains with associated precip, a pattern change. We'll see. Thanksgiving time should be OK for travel, nothing major at this time.
Update to Thanksgiving weather.
The European model has lined up with the American model. They both show an omega towards the end of the week (lows over both coasts, east and west, with a high ridge over the plains). This equates to warmer than average temps. and dry. The high pressure center over Mexico did move to just west of Baja. I thought "OK just a little farther west and we'd get a wetter pattern change." Now, the ridge is moving back to Mexico as shown on upper maps and the models. In summer, this would mean a heat wave for us. To change this pattern we need a tremendous low pressure to force the high east or smash it south. So far that is not in the weekly models. So, high and dry for the holiday travel.
Black Friday, weather changes a-coming.
The models are starting to show a possible pattern change and the forecasters are starting to mention it. A series of upper lows enter the west coast and smash the Mexico high southward. The American model completely erases the high mid week while the European model leaves a small high ridge with a huge low coming in off the southwest US coast. Things change starting the middle of next week (beginning of firearms deer season) blustery rainy weather with a "potential" storm for next weekend. In the meantime our Mexico high is giving us warm and dry till Tuesday. On the farm we have one milo field left to cut. Breakdowns, medical procedures, cattle feeding and short daylight is slowing me down. We have to brand our replacement heifers next Tuesday then deer season comes to keep us occupied.
November 27, milo harvest is done.!!
I finished cutting milo in Saline county today. That is all there is. Jeremy helped me put a rear tire on my combine from an old
"junker" while the original tire was at the tire repair place. I moved over there 6 days ago but was hampered with breakdowns and couldn't just cut 15 acres. Anyway, it's done now. As for the weather. Temps were in the upper 70s, a new record for today. Models show a nice low moving through tomorrow with some rain in attendance. We've transitioned into a fast flowing
zonal pattern. Low pressure systems don't get a chance to bring in sufficient moisture for precip. because of the fast movement. This may change as a strong system moves into the west coast then towards the plains a week out in model land. Too early to bite on this too hard, but something to watch.
weather and things.
Getting more fall work done off and on lately. Been really hampered with my health---not especially liver related. Finally got a procedure done last Tue, (a week ago). This triggered both a change in medicine I'm taking and new blood tests. I think the Dr. is moving in on my exact problems. We'll see. Switching to weather, The next week storm system has lost it's precip punch but has increased it's cold air punch. Maybe we are falling into the La Nina pattern so expecting with this pattern cold and dry.
December 1, the Kansas drought intensifies.
We're getting real dry. Models show a pattern change with a ridge over the Pacific coast of the US along with a Hudson bay low. This is another variant of northwest flow aloft on steroids. This opens the north door and drops our temps next week to near to below normal. This shuts down gulf moisture to the plains thus no rain/snow. The only hope I can see is the MJO (Madden Julian Oscillation) possibly changing the pattern. This week it has flared up in the pacific and may alter the pattern the week after next, (the effects to the plains not understood by me. To say the least, the dryness continues at least till the 2nd week of Dec.
Dec. 7, cold. Drought continues.
The weather pattern continues with ridge on the west coast and a Hudson bay low/eastern US trough. Today, we are cold (32 for the high) and bone dry. It turns out that the MJO created the current pattern instead of changing it. The pattern won't change much until the MJO moves substantially in the Pacific ocean or fades out in strength. What this means for us is continued northwest flow aloft, (dry and cool but changeable temps). A short explanation on temps with a northwest flow aloft. Any small lower pressure blob riding along with the upper flow brings a cold front with it with northerly winds. This occurs about every 3 to 4 days and gives one day of colder temps. Once the low passes the pressure relaxes, winds turn more out of the northwest then west northwest. This creates downslope flow which is important due to the law of laps rates. An approximate example is this. If you move a blob of air up 5000 yards the blob will cool around 8 degrees F. If you move the same blob down 5000 yds. the blob will warm 8 degrees F. So, if the winds blow from northeast Colorado to Salina, the altitude will drop maybe 9 or 10,000 yards thus warming around or up to 16 degrees. These figures are very basic but shows the tendancy. Humidity, pressure, sunshine or cloudy, temps around 8000 feet, and mixing of the air mass all modulate the temps to some degree. It's pretty variable imputs that can factor into actual temps. This is why we get one day or so of below normal temps, 2 or 3 days of normal temps, one day of above normal temps, then do it over again. Hope the explanation of all this is clear enough to understand. Weather is complicated. On the farm, I was looking at our newly planted wheat. Compared to last year, (a bin buster for me) the wheat is around 33% of what it was a year ago. I know the world supply is good, but I feel traders do not realize the reduced acres of wheat planted and the real condition of the wheat here in the plains. I've sold my '17 wheat but am feeling like I should own some on paper to take advantage of any "up" in the futures market. We'll see. PS Dec. 9. Looking at models this evening shows a "possible" pattern change (only one main model shows this so far) to a more west to east jet pattern. This actually would be an even warmer pattern than we currently have. The Dodge City forecaster gave some validity to this happening. Also, looking farther out in time with the "pattern change model" shows some dynamic things happening just before Christmas. It's only one model (the American model)and I'd like to see collaberation with other models (especially the European) but it's something to look forward to.
About my health.
After special procedures and blood tests it has been determined that I have Krons disease. I'm taking special drugs and if they don't work there are others we can try. At least now, I know why I am having so much trouble with my digestive system which at times almost totally handicaps me.
Dec. 12, looking for weather changes in the future.
Looking at the changes in intensity and position of the MJO (Madden Julian Oscillation) and the PNA (Pacific North American phase) indicates a pattern shift next weekend. How this shakes out for Kansas is somewhat unclear to me as of today. My thinking is this. Look for cooler temps than what we've been having, starting this weekend into next week. Precip. is harder to figure. Models have been trending to some moisture with this pattern change but no huge storms on the plains. That will only change if the trough scheduled for the central US. can wind up a storm or an upper low gets cut off. Don't see that much happening soon but possible later if the current retrogression of the west coast high continues.
December 14, getting a little bit more locked in on the future weather.
It showered a little this afternoon with a cloudy day and cooler. This appears to herald the type of weather we'll have in the future. My earlier thinking on a trend towards cooler weather for Kansas is now being backed by the 6-10 day outlook and the 8-14 day outlook by the Climate Prediction Center. They have the central plains in a cooler than normal to colder than normal outlook. Also the high pressure that WAS on the west coast has retrograded west OFF the coast which makes low pressure trough more prevalent over the plains.(Which made our rain today). The climate center has increased the precip area outlook into the plains to a just above normal precip. Looking at the European model shows storm system moving through the plains this weekend, then a sharp trough moving through the plains the middle of next week. These are no big spun up storms but strong enough to produce some at least light measurable precip. After that we'll see where the west coast ridge goes. If it continues to retrograde out into the Pacific, we could get some robust winter storms.
Dec. 18, still warm, but not for long.
Today's temps were in the upper 50s. Very nice. The temp. change is coming starting Thursday. The MJO is fighting the La Nina background fighting for dominance over our current and future pattern. A Hudson bay low has emerged combined with a west coast ridge giving Kansas a northerly upper flow. The Hudson low will pinwheel upper shortwaves over us reinforcing the cold air overhead. The source of our cold air (northwest Canada/northern Alaska) has really dropped into the minus 0 temps. This will ensure the coldest air of the season this upcoming weekend through the new year. The short wave lows that pinwheel around the Hudson bay upper low should have enough lift for a dusting of snow starting Thursday night, then again Christmas eve. Some of Kansas will have a white Christmas with an inch or so of fluffy snow. I still see no major storms in the future with this type of pattern. The upper ridge edged closer to the west coast which makes it harder to spin up a southwest US. storm and a meaningful chance for precip. Again, holiday travel will be COLD with little precip.
Dec. 22, cold and dry on the farm.
I'm doing this this evening as we will be traveling and very busy the next few days. Activities on the farm are regular feeding of cattle. This has been almost enjoyable as I have sold off a few notorious fence crawler cows who in the past led many cows astray keeping me busy fixing fence daily. So far things are good. I just finished rebuilding the 2nd part of a corral on one of our adjacent farms. I hope all have a merry Christmas. I just can't get my mind around Christmas eve is Sunday. As to weather. Thursday night precip is going to be in southeast Kansas. Saturday evening precip is going to be closer to Nebraska, missing the I-70 corridor, at least as the models show now. I read the forecast done by Dodge City NWS this afternoon. It was written by the meteorologist in charge, (who isn't on the forecast shift but fills in especially during the holidays when the shift forecasters take time off). He is very knowledgeable on longer range forecasting. He verified my thinking that the MJO is fighting the La Nina base state for shaping the weather pattern. As the MJO moves, it changes it's imput to the pattern. The next chance for precip for Kansas after Sat. is next Thursday/Friday. (Impact not real definite yet.) The Dodge City forecaster did say that after January 7, there was an increased chances for impactful weather, (precip for Kansas?) The climate prediction center shows colder and wetter through this time so we'll see. Hopefully I'll check in next week.
December 27, very cold, some snow for the holiday.
We got an inch and a half of snow pre-Christmas eve, then an inch Christmas day. I was a little surprised to get it but am glad the wheat was somewhat covered due to high temps in the teens and lows approaching zero. The next cold blast comes New Years Eve with even colder temps expected. Hopefully the front will "wring" out another inch or so of snow cover, (even dry air masses can produce dry fluffy snow if it gets cold enough to reach saturation). The next two days will have moderating temps before the big plunge. It didn't take long for pond ice to get so thick the cattle cant break it to drink. So, we have to take extra time to break it for them. January looks to have around 3 good upper waves pass over that might be precip makers. I get this from long term models (accuracy questionable), the MJO strength and position, The Climate Prediction center's 2 and 3 week outlook, SPC's severe weather dashboard and local forecasters thinking. These long range looks ahead I just look for trends then wait a week out for the medium/shorter range models to lock onto a solution that is clearer. On the models, in all honesty, they are accurate to around 10-11 days in advance then it's a coin flip beyond that. January will be busy for me with multiple Dr. visits, meetings and farm tax preparations. We'll have a very cold family coyote hunt New Years Day then try to survive the beastly cold first week of the new year.