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More winter weather likely

Snow melts around a tree trunk on a Livingston County farmstead last week / CIFN photo.

Mother Nature has been rather indecisive lately with snowstorms followed by temperatures in the 50s which we experienced early this week.

It looks like the back-and-forth weather pattern will continue with another winter system expected to arrive in Central Illinois by Thursday with snow and possibly an icy mix in parts of Illinois.

“We have a pretty strong cold front coming through our area so we are expecting to be on the cold side of this system,” said Alex Erwin, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Lincoln.

Where the system sets up and the amounts of snow remain a bit uncertain, although wintry precipitation is expected throughout the day on Thursday.

Early indications make this system not look quite as intense as some of our earlier February events but we’ll have to keep a close eye on that,” noted Erwin.

Snowfall amounts look to be on the lighter end relative to the earlier February storm systems. Erwin believes the Interstate 70 corridor has the best potential for winter weather impacts and winds should not be as much of a factor with this week’s system.

Even though we have received plenty of snow for February, agronomist Marion Shier with United Soils in Fairbury feels some of the subsoil moisture could stand to be replenished a bit more.

“I did notice one tile line before the last storm came through that was running pretty significantly,” Shier observed.

Any remaining snow on the surface should melt ahead of Thursday as rain is expected to precede the snow event. Soils above the frost line will continue to be saturated until the frost dissipates and that water will probably start moving toward field edges and ditches.

“Right now, we have a surplus because we have very little moisture demand on the soil profile but before spring arrives, we can stand to probably use some more moisture to get into that surface soil,” Shier added.

There are plenty of unknowns surrounding the current weather cycles. Several days of sunshine, wind and warmer temperatures could really evaporate much of the surface moisture we currently have.

While temperatures did dip to very cold levels this winter, Shier isn’t sure if it was cold enough to get rid of all of the soil critters. In order for soil born insects to have a significant mortality rate, the soil temperature needs to be down to 20 degrees for close to 20 days.

“We’ve got frost in the ground in places, but I don’t think we’ve every really gotten to 20 degrees at four, five or six inches deep for a prolonged period of time,” explained Shier.


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