Source: MDA EarthSat Weather

Recent cold and stormy weather across the southern United States has led to much colder than normal sea surface temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico. "Sea surface temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico are generally 2-5 degrees F below normal." said Kyle Tapley, agricultural meteorologist for MDA Earthsat/CropCAST. "Looking back at the past 10 years, there are no cases of similarly cold Gulf of Mexico sea surface temperatures at the beginning of March." added Tapley.

The colder than normal waters of the Gulf of Mexico may lead to cooler air temperatures across the southern U.S. over the next several weeks, especially near the coast. "This matches up well with our current forecast through the end of March, which calls for below normal temperatures across the southern U.S." said Tapley. The colder weather in the Gulf may also influence early spring precipitation across key southern agriculture areas. "The colder waters in the Gulf would foster less evaporation and leave less energy available for storm systems that cross the region. This would result in a drier risk for the Delta and Southeast. Indeed, our forecast shows a general drying trend across these areas toward the end of the month." said Tapley. These drier conditions would promote fieldwork and early planting, but the cooler conditions would slow germination and early growth of crops.

Sea surface temperature anomalies can change fairly quickly, but if these colder conditions do persist, they could provide some insight into weather across the southern U.S. in April as well. MDA Earthsat/CropCAST's April forecast currently calls for near normal temperatures across the Delta and Southeast, and near to slightly above normal rainfall. However, "ongoing below normal water temperatures in the Gulf would introduce a cool and dry risk to this forecast." said Tapley. 

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