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Estimated rainfall totals for Sept. 7-10, 2018 based on station observations. Figure provided by the Midwestern Regional Climate Center.

Hurricanes and harvest weather in 2018

By Aaron Wilson, Ohio State University Extension

It was quite the wet week across the state of Ohio! Scattered thunderstorms throughout the week brought isolated 1- to 2-inch rainfall amounts. The big story began on Friday night, as a stalled out front provided a path for the remnants of Tropical Storm Gordon to move through the region, bringing steady to moderate rain and gusty winds from Friday night through Monday morning.

While rainfall was certainly heaviest across the southern counties of Ohio this weekend, almost the entire state picked up appreciable amounts of rain. The map shows estimated precipitation totals between Friday morning and Monday morning (September 7-10), showing many areas exceeding 2 inches of rain for the 72-hour event. Preliminary isolated totals of 7.44 inches and 6.35 inches occurred in northwest Montgomery County and northern Scioto County, respectively. Combined with rainfall from earlier in week, these rainfall totals represent 3 to 6 times the normal rainfall for a typical week in early September. With farmers throughout the state eager to continue or begin harvest, the big question is, how soon will we dry out?

The immediate forecast looks favorable. In the wake of this past weekend’s rainfall, high temperatures are expected to moderate from the low to mid 70s into the low to mid 80s by week’s end. Dew point temperatures in the 50s and low 60s means dry air will prevail, with partly to mostly sunny skies throughout the week. These weather conditions should help fields dry out throughout the state.

The 8 to 14 day projection (September 17-23) provided by the Climate Prediction Center, which includes Farm Science Review week near London, Ohio, suggests both near-normal temperatures and precipitation across Ohio. Normal high (low) temperatures throughout the state during mid-September range from the low 70s (upper 40s) across the north to upper 70s (mid to upper 50s) across southern Ohio, with anywhere from 0.5-inch to 1-inch of weekly rainfall.

However, there is some uncertainty in the forecast given the eventual path of another tropical cyclone currently moving toward the southeast U.S. coast. At the time of this article, Hurricane Florence has reached Category 4 (sustained winds of 130 miles per hour) and is expected to come ashore near Wilmington, NC late Sept. 13. While the storm will weaken after moving inland, wind damage and a tremendous amount of rain are expected across the Carolinas and mid-Atlantic regions. Whether Florence will have a large impact on weather conditions in Ohio beyond this weekend is still uncertain, but the situation should be monitored over the next several days. If Florence does make it far enough inland to affect Ohio, the areas to watch right now are the southern and eastern counties. With the ground already saturated from this past weekend’s rainfall, additional heavy rain could quickly deteriorate field conditions once more and stall harvest activities further during the third week of September.

Here is the link to the Midwestern Regional Climate Center.

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