COLUMBIA, Mo. - It's too close to call yet, but April temperatures this year look to be cooler than March's.
"It's rare, but occasionally it occurs where March is warmer than April," said Pat Guinan, extension climatologist with the University of Missouri Commercial Agriculture Program. "The numbers are indicating it's going to be very close, with both months averaging about 58 degrees."
April almost seemed cool compared to a record March that ran 14 degrees above normal. Yet April temperatures were also up, trending about 3 degrees warmer than in an average year.
That monthly average adds to a much longer pattern of warmer temperatures in Missouri.
"We had our third-warmest winter on record, our warmest March on record, and we saw many months well above normal," Guinan said. "We have been above normal every month since October of last year. That's seven consecutive months of warmer-than-normal temperatures and our warmest October-April period ever."
Precipitation has been variable in April. A 100-mile swath of above-normal rainfall occurred from Joplin to St. Louis, but southeastern, south-central and west-central Missouri all saw a pretty dry month.
"The month will go down in the books with precipitation a little below normal for the state, averaging around 4 inches, even with a corridor of 5-9 inches that ran from Joplin to St. Louis," Guinan said. There were a couple significant rain events that coincidentally lined up along the same area on two separate occasions and led to some high monthly precipitation totals in the region.
The Bootheel wasn't as lucky. Parts of the region saw less than 1 inch of rain in April.
"Locations in Bootheel counties witnessed little precipitation during the entire month, running deficits more than 4 inches below normal," Guinan said. "The abnormal dryness is starting to see impacts, with wheat starting to turn yellow, and producers are not planting soybeans yet because it's just too dry."
Forecasters aren't sure if May will change that. Typically, May is the wettest month of the year in Missouri, averaging around 5 inches.
"When it comes to precipitation, there's a lot more uncertainty, with predictions seeing equal chances of above-normal, below-normal and near-normal rainfall," Guinan said. "We've had very wet springs the last several years, but that doesn't necessarily translate to this spring going to be wet."