"The FARMSMART Podcast": Episode 49

Posted April 11, 2024 | By: Nutrien Ag Solutions

2024 Ag Weather Outlook: Everybody Needs Something from Mother Nature, with Eric Snodgrass

Let's start with the good news about the North American climate outlook for the 2024 growing season: drought conditions are significantly better than they were last year.

However, maybe it's force-of-habit, but growers seem to have more anxiety than usual about weather in the coming growing season, according to Nutrien Ag Solutions science fellow and principal atmospheric scientist Eric Snodgrass.

And among the growers he talks to across the continent, he says everyone has something they're hoping for that could make or break their year.

So in this episode, we'll dive in to the climatological outlook for every region in North America and try to tell you what kind of help... or hinderance... you can expect from Mother Nature.

We'll discuss what the unusually warm winter means for planting operations across the continent, and see how long-term trade winds trends will impact weather patterns.

Then, Eric will explain why he expects to see an active severe weather season this Spring, followed by Summer weather that might seem reminiscent of 2016 for some growers.

Episode Transcript

Eric Snodgrass

I can tell you there’s an interesting amount of anxiety this year going into this growing season. I got people asking me to shut the rain off there, people saying bring the rain on here. It’s one of these weird springs where everybody’s got an ask, and Mother Nature seems to be answering some of those questions, and others just leaving them wide open.  


Dusty Weis 

Welcome to the FARMSMART Podcast, presented by Nutrien Ag Solutions, where every month we're talking to sustainable agriculture experts from throughout the industry. As the leading source of insight for growers on evolving their sustainability practices while staying grounded in agronomic proof, FARMSMART is where sustainability meets opportunity.


Sally Flis 

We don't just talk change. We're out in the field helping you identify the products, practices and technologies that bring the future to your fields faster. I'm Dr. Sally Flis, Director of Program Design and Outcome Management.


Dusty Weis 

And I'm Dusty Weis and we're joined now by Eric Snodgrass, Science Fellow and Principal Atmospheric Scientist at Nutrien Ag Solutions to talk a little bit about what's on tap from a climate perspective for the growing season ahead. Eric, it's good to see you again. Thanks for joining us.


Eric Snodgrass 

Yeah, thanks for having me back on.


Dusty Weis 

We've gotten into a real good habit here over the past couple of years now, where we talk to you about every year at this time, because let's be honest, weather is something that's really on everybody's mind at this point. Everyone across North America is really focused on planting and therefore the weather. And certainly this is something that is your bread and butter that you do for Nutrien Ag Solutions. You've got this YouTube channel that you're producing content for regularly, but for our listeners, can you give us a quick rapid fire regional weather update and what everybody across North America can expect here?


Eric Snodgrass 

Yeah, I'll tell you, it's been an interesting winter transitioning to spring because as I've traveled the country and talked to a lot of growers, I could tell you there's an interesting amount of anxiety this year going into this growing season. If I had to pick one state that was the most anxious of all of them, it has to be Iowa. And I don't know if it's because of the last four years getting by with just in time rains, the longer term drought stresses, that state has a lot of anxious growers. 

So they're looking at spring, following a very, very warm end of winter and saying, how fast can I plant this crop? Because I want to get in as soon as I can to not have to think about any major stresses that could happen later in the season. So we look at spring and said, wow, February, most of March, very mild, rapid accumulation of early heat, but we didn't get to use it. Because for a lot of the Midwest, it came before we had a crop in the ground. 

Now the South, you get down at the Southern States, we were able to really take advantage of some of that early season heat. And what was also interesting about this winter is, if we had a talk last fall, we would have talked about massive drought that's been in parts of like the Delta and the lower Mississippi River Valley. It's gone. I mean, they're talking about having too much water down there.  

So you say, where are we in spring? I'm like, all right, I got people anxious here. People ask me to shut the rain off there. People saying, bring the rain on here. I got people in the North saying, can we just get a little more snow soon enough, you know, that we don't have to worry about? It's one of these weird springs where everybody's got an ask and Mother Nature seems to be answering some of those questions and others just leaving them wide open.

I will tell you this, the West is going to go into another year, largely drought free. California, I just looked this morning has got three feet of water. That's not snow. Three feet of water in the snow that's going to melt into the reservoirs. We know that drought area for the country's down to about 18%. It was at 40% in the fall. It's now down to 18%, but this doesn't mean that we're all in just great shape going forward with this year. 

Good news is I think April is going to be kind to most people with opening up some early planting windows. But with every April, we always have the risk of severe weather. So there's going to be a lot on tap with one of our most volatile months of the year, which is April. So that's what I'm seeing in the near term.


Dusty Weis 

We've definitely had a weird season here in Wisconsin, I'll tell you that. And you referenced it a little bit, but this really weird warm weather that we had end of January, all through February and even beginning of March here, it's, we like to refer in the upper Midwest to something that we call Fool's Spring. It's certainly the longest and most potent Fool's Spring that I can remember in a while, but here we are now beginning of April and things have cooled all the way back down to being super seasonal and we even had some snow here in the upper Midwest recently. Is that sort of really extended Fool's Spring going to have any sorts of long-term impact for growers?


Eric Snodgrass 

I think it will. So here's the benefit side of it, okay. We went through such a very mild February and most of March and I've been telling growers all over the country. I'm like, listen, if you ask me what I want, I want a big March 20th blizzard and I want it to hit the Dakotas. I wanted to hit Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, dump a bunch of snow on them. They're going to hate me for saying that and then love me come May. Now we got it. I don't know how I got it right, but I was talking about that back in January, but we got snow in because up to that point, most of Minnesota, most of Wisconsin, and most of the Dakotas, were looking at what 15 to 30% of a normal season's worth of snow. And we needed this late season moisture to upset that balance that was going in the wrong direction. But as you said, like you have a bunch of people that are like, okay, can we just get into spring? Let's go ahead and get this thing going early. And now we've tossed in some cold weather here to start the month of April and certainly finish March. And it kind of threw the brakes on a lot of things.

So yeah, you compare it to a year ago where we were talking about still three to nine inches of liquid still trapped in the snow over the headwaters of the Mississippi river basin, the Great Lakes states. It's such a contrast. Just one year to the next.


Sally Flis 

Yeah, Eric, you touched on it a little bit there, but you know, when we talked last year this time, we were talking about ridiculous numbers of feet of snow, especially in the West and how that melt went. I'd be curious for any kind of recap on how that spring looked when we had those enormous amounts of snow in the West last year. But how does that compare to what we saw in winter 2023, 2024 across some of those same areas?


Eric Snodgrass 

So yeah, last winter was the big one, right? We had, there was one spot in Utah that accumulated 900 inches of snow. I mean, that's just an unfathomable amount of snow for someone like me living in the Midwest. But this year you go to the Sierra Nevada mountains, you go to the Great Basin, you go to the Upper Colorado Basin, all of those areas are above their historical averages on snow. It's the Northern Rockies and the Cascades, we wish we could have gotten some more.

So what that means is we will have the Colorado River flowing. It'll probably reach the Baja of California this year at some point, which is great. It'll fill a lot of reservoirs, bring them back up to where we need them to be. That basically provide water for both agricultural use and, and people use, city use as the Colorado River flows. But California will spend an entire year drought free. I don't think that they can get back into a drought situation simply because their reservoirs right now are a 100 to 150% of historical average.

We haven't even begun to melt the snow yet. So when you look at the combined, what's already in the reservoir versus what's in the snowpack, you know, the numbers are huge. And remember, California leads the country in the production of over 40 different fruits and vegetables and milk, meaning that this is gonna be a year that California's got water. Now, what's the consequence? Because we had that much snow last year as well. Well, the big issue is you get a feedback in the climate system from having that much extensive snowpack. It tends to keep things cooler longer, and the jet stream wants to keep dipping around all of the Western mountains rather than plowing through it.  

And you say well what does that mean? Well the farther you take the jet stream the more cold air is going to be in it. And I was just talking to a good friend of mine, a Nutrien employee Richard Mead out there and I said, “Richard like how are things?” “Eric, we've got to start accumulating heat units. We've got plenty of chill hours bring on the heat. We've got to get the heat up.” 

So you look at the West and if I just use a real basic growing degree day number we're up to 100 GDDs behind average in California. And from Eastern Texas to the Mid-South and into the Southeast, we're 250 GDDs ahead of average there. So it's this amazing split in the country with the West hanging on to such cold weather through February into March, now into part of April, they've got to make a breakaway to start getting heat soon. Otherwise it'll just delay everything they do in the West, which everything is microclimate and day in and day out practices to ensure the crop is gonna be good out there. So boy, it's gonna be a challenge and they need heat.


Dusty Weis 

Eric, I'm going to do that thing that I know that meteorologists love when lay people do, and I'm going to vastly oversimplify this next question, but is it safe to say that we've fixed the drought in California and the follow-up question being, have we broken something else now?


Eric Snodgrass 

So you fixed the most recent drought. I'll attribute it to you. You fixed, it's yeah, it's the last two years went a long way. But remember, the West is always one bad snow season away from drought. So should the weather patterns next year favor what we call massive ridges on the West to drive all the warm air North into Alaska, the central part of Canada, getting into the western part of the plains, the central plains, the Midwest and East, we get tossed back in the freezer. We have massive snow events and the West spends the whole winter not accumulating the water. So temporarily, the answer to the question is yes, but they could be back into extreme drought if they don't get good snow every winter. So yeah, good question.


Dusty Weis 

So what about out east then, especially the Carolinas?


Eric Snodgrass 

Yeah, so in the Carolinas, especially North Carolina, winter was odd to that state, because from Georgia to South Carolina, then to Virginia, so skipping over North Carolina and going up the East Coast, very, very wet. But we had multiple systems, especially in February and early March, that kept missing this spot in North Carolina. But the end of March, thankfully, and the beginning of April erased all that problem. 

So right now you look across the East Coast, we're drought free. I mean, there's a couple of abnormally dry spots, but we're drought free. 

Now in Sally's backyard, this was not a big year for lake effect snow. Even though the Great Lakes remained almost ice free for most of the winter, I think the highest, I'll have to go back and double check the records, but I think the highest I saw them covered was about 4 to 5%. So we could have had massive lake effect snow, but you gotta have cold air to make it. So yeah, there was snow in New England, but they're way down below where they should be for this time of year on snow. 

But a lot of stuff came in as rain. So we're not looking at New England saying drought, worry about drought. So very interesting winter to go back and do a retrospective on.


Sally Flis 

So Eric, two specific spots I got questions for you about because it's where we've got some big acres and programs with partners around wheat. Starting up, you mentioned it a little bit in the Dakotas where they've seen lower snowfall and it's a time of year where they would really like to have snow on the ground, but they don't have any snow on the ground. What's it looking like for them in the Dakotas and probably up into the provinces of Manitoba and Saskatchewan for the coming months and how they're gonna set up for rainfall. And then also, is Texas gonna stay a little moisture positive this year in the Panhandle area or are we gonna see another severe crop loss in that geography?


Eric Snodgrass 

Yeah, so you just asked about the entirety of the plains. So we're going to cover about 600 million acres with that question, which is good. That's OK. So the Canadian prairie, they're going to look back on this winter, and there were good time periods of decent snow, but snow in Canada, especially in the prairie, it can't undo the drought from the previous year. So if you look at a drought monitor map right now the entirety of the Canadian prairie is in some form of drought from abnormally dry all the way up to the highest stage of drought. And the residual effects of missing out on rain last season are still there. And it's still a problem. You slide down to the Red River Valley of the North, you get into the Dakotas and you're right. What made last year an okay year for them growing crop was they had all of that snowpack that melted in April. 

And then when it didn't rain there in May and June, they didn't care. They had soil moisture and it wasn't extremely hot. Now you keep going south of there and I'll tell you, I mentioned Iowa, but if you come over to parts of Nebraska and Kansas and Oklahoma and Texas, I have got a group of farmers that I communicate with quite regularly in that area. And I have one of them that's keeping track in Kansas to the last time that he saw more than two inches of rain in a day. And he's on day 600 and like 74, something ridiculous like that.

So you have this spot in the central plains that desperately needs to have, I hate to say it, but desperately needs to have a very active severe weather season to pull enough moisture back into the Western and high plains, blow up the big storms. We love them and we hate them. We hate them because they produce tornados, straight line wind and hail. We love them because they have the capability of dropping three inches of rain. And so we need to see the atmosphere doing that.  

But the last place, my farthest to the South, let's go from like, let's go to the Texas panhandle. This is like mission critical ag part of Texas. I'm most worried about that spot. And the reason for that is I've already seen two pretty large dust storms coming out of New Mexico into Western Texas up on the Caprock. And I've not been able to get in any of the forecasts for the moisture to get so far back that they just get soaked. There's some promise in the near term over April.

But we need April and May to deliver a lot of rain to the area because no matter what, it's going to get a hundred degrees there, but it's the establishment of a crop with good moisture, then the maintaining of it with our irrigation efforts and the avoidance of exceptional heat. And we don't want any more of these dust storms because they're not just dust, it's dust and sand. And you can actually just sandblast a brand new crop down there and ruin it so quickly. So if you want to know one spot, there's three I'm worried about, one spot that I'm worried about going into 2024’s main growing season is the Texas Panhandle and surrounding area.


Dusty Weis 

Well, I know that recently Eric in a forecast you put out you projected that a cooler system in the West could contribute to generating some severe storms in the Midwest and the East and the South during the month of April here. Can you elaborate on that a little bit and is that a possibility to help deal with some of those drought conditions that you mentioned?


Eric Snodgrass 

Yeah, I mean, that's how we break drought, to be honest with you. It's never done gently. It's always done with some sort of big push in a different direction with the weather system. And so here's what we need to see. We need to get the jet stream to enter the United States, dipping through California, coming up out of Arizona, New Mexico, and then leaving in the panhandles. And if we can get systems to keep their momentum through the Southern mountains, the great basin and you know, that region and eject, I hate to say it, but, while the weather will be rough, it's a lot of severe weather, which is common for April and May. I mean, those are the months we accumulate the most in terms of severe weather reports, especially for hail and tornadoes. The other thing it does is it beats back drought risk. 

And so yes, April and May right now, in my opinion, are elevated in the central plains, the mid-south and the southern plains, and also the Midwest. So that kind of big geographical area. Let's call it South Dakota to Texas, and then go on over to like, Mississippi back up to Indiana. That square seems to be under the gun this year for a lot of severe weather early in the season.


Dusty Weis 

Well, I want to follow up on that a little bit here in a moment. Certainly we want to look a little bit further out to see what the entire year is going to look like. We've also talked a lot these past few years about La Nina and El Nino patterns and the trade winds. That is all changing again, because, of course it is. So we want to look ahead to that and the other long-term trends that we're tracking in the climate. And that's coming up in a moment here on the FARMSMART Podcast.


Dusty Weis

This is the FARMSMART Podcast presented by Nutrien Ag Solutions. I'm Dusty Weis, along with Sally Flis. And we're talking today with Eric Snodgrass, Science Fellow and Principal Atmospheric Scientist at Nutrien Ag Solutions. 

And Eric, El Nino is something that we talked about last year at this time as something that was going to be affecting the long-term weather patterns, but that now is projected to collapse in the spring and be gone by the summer here. This after three straight years of La Nina patterns. So what now? How is this going to affect the precipitation that we currently have, that's going to set us up for the growing season of 2024?


Eric Snodgrass 

Well, that's a great question. And I wish I could just rattle off the exact answer for you. But the reality of it is that we are right now in a time period which has been studied extensively in atmospheric sciences, which we call the spring barrier. It's called the spring forecast barrier. So yes, we had an El Nino, a strong wind that peaked right around Christmas. It's been fading ever since. By some arguments here in April, we could make the case that it is neutral based off the trade wind behavior.

And the fact that cooler water is beginning to surface. But to really give you a solid picture of how quickly we transition away from neutral into a La Nina by summer or fall, I've got to get into May. It's a weird thing, but once we see the May pattern become established, it's all due to longer daylight, higher sun angles, things like that. We get to see how the jet stream is going to respond to all this. 

So long story short, we do expect a transition to continue. And for most people, especially in the midsection of the United States, the whole of the plains to the Mississippi basin, that is an area that if you say La Nina, they automatically think ridging, heat and drought. But you gotta understand something, it's about the transition into one of these things, not necessarily where you are with respect to the magnitude or the strength of one.  

So here's what we think. If you were to use the models that are run by NOAA, if you were to use the models that are run by the French, and if you were to use the models that are run by kind of this European conglomerate, but not the European model, but this other conglomerate of European countries, they're all saying that by the time we get into midsummer, it's not just La Nina, but a strong La Nina. In other words, a complete flip over what we've been in. 

And those are the models that want to take drought... Remember I told you at the one spot I'm worried about the Southern Plains? They're trying to take drought from Mexico, plant it into the Southern Plains, bridge it with the drought that's coming out of Canada, and swipe it across the Midwest by the time we get into August. Literally some of these models are trying to do a repeat of 1988. 

Now, what's interesting about this, if you don't mind me telling you, this is an interesting story. I've done this four times. In the last four weeks at different events I've talked to around the Midwest United States, I've asked for a show of hands. I said, hey, how many of you in this room would like to see a repeat of a summer that was hot and dry that impacted your yield and production? 

That's a weird question for meteorologists to ask. You think everyone would want to avoid it, right? And I say, how many want a repeat of 1988 or 2012? Now these are talking to Illinois and Indiana and Iowa farmers. 10 seconds to go by, not a single hand will go up. 

And I'll count another 10 seconds in my head while I'm letting that question float. Usually by the end of it, a third of the hands are up in the air. So that tells us something interesting about the way people are gonna be thinking about the arrival of La Nina. And this is it. 

Let's say that this particular arrival of La Nina leads to plenty of precipitation in the Corn Belt and huge yields. Why did they all raise their hand that they want a problem? They want a problem because we know what the global supply is, right now.

And so they're sitting there thinking, if we need to keep prices at a comfortable place where we're profitable, something's gotta pull back on the supply so that we'll make the money on what we do have to sell. Isn't that an interesting just way to think about going into a crop year? That you have people that are saying, you know what, if we take a big ding on this crop because of drought and heat, that's something to consider. Now, what do I think is gonna happen? Now you're pinning me down here at the beginning of April. So remember, it's beginning of April.


Dusty Weis 

Asterisk right there.


Eric Snodgrass 

I do have concern over the Southern Plains. That's region number one. Historically, years where you had an El Nino in the previous winter, and you lost it in spring and La Nina by summer and fall, what we tended to get was drought in one of three spots. The Southern Plains is one, the Mid-South is another, and the Southeast is the third. And in all three of those cases, if I'm north of that region, it storms like mad. And the Corn Belt tends to be stormy when the Cotton Belt is on fire. 

Now, what is odd about all of those years is that it only lasts ‘til August. Because by mid August, years where you crash into La Nina, you tend to get a really active increase in hurricanes. So now you start sweeping these things out of the open Atlantic. They go partly through the Caribbean or through the Gulf of Mexico. And then you may have a spot that has been an extreme drought that gets a week's worth of rain from a hurricane and all of a sudden the drought's gone. 

But that kind of extreme precipitation is not good. So at this particular stage, I'm worried about the Southern Plains as one spot, the Mid-South right there. I mean, epicenter would be Memphis if you wanna think of a spot or possibly over Atlanta. And I got asked a week ago if I had to pick one year, just one, that I could say maybe 2024 is gonna look like. 

I said, if you're going to pin me down and say one year, I'm going to say 2016. And you say 2016 to somebody in the Southeast. And they're like, please God, no, because that was the year that almost all of Alabama, almost all of Georgia, part of South Carolina and the Eastern halves of Kentucky and Tennessee weren't just dry, but like that's their record. 

This was the year. I don't know if you remember it when Gatlinburg burned, there was a fire set there and it burned… I mean, that whole major tourist area to the ground and burned a lot of the Smoky Mountains.

And guess what happened when that occurred? Where I live up in the Corn Belt, stormed, rained, huge crops, no exceptional heat. It was all tucked away down south. 

Now, one last thing. I am more than prepared to be wrong with all of this, which is why I produce weather content every day. So if something changes, I let people know like, hey, listen, we've seen this shift around. Now the new drought risk is here or whatever. And we try to keep accounting of it. But the reality of it is, is that based on history, I would tell you that those are the risk spots this year. 


Sally Flis 

Eric, you mentioned it a little bit in there when you're talking about commodity prices and the global nature of everything. What are we seeing outside North America that can impact that global commodity price, supply/demand? You know, then we get a bridge collapse that's going to impact distribution and supply chains again. So what else are you seeing globally that could impact our North American commodity prices and supply chains this year?


Eric Snodgrass 

Yeah, so let's start on the supply chain side of that. And then I think I'll finish your question by answering questions I put in my head about South America. So we know that drought slowed down the Panama Canal this past summer and fall. And since then we've not actually seen a major resurgence of traffic back through it. 

At the same time, traffic is way down in the Suez canal. I think partly because of a conflict in that area.

So we have still what's going on between Russia and Ukraine. We also have the Israel-Hamas issue, but I think there's other reasons in there as well. And if you look at a global shipping map, you will find that most of our major, like container ships, but also stuff we do in agriculture, they'd rather go around the southern tip of Africa, Cape of Good Hope, or go around Cape Horn, which is to the south of Patagonia, south of Argentina. That's the southern tip of South America.  

Major increases in travel around two spots in the world that have the worst weather in the world. It's crazy to think about that. We don't expect there to be a major shift back to the big canals anytime soon, because when we talk about planning of these global shipping routes, these decisions get executed and they stay in place for a while until a major shift can be made back to something else. But then maybe the other thing you're asking about, global production, you know, South America is just an absolute beast in terms of being able to grow crops. 

I mean, right now, just with soybeans alone, South America grows 27 million more acres than the United States does. That's the entire size of the state of Ohio. And out of that, they get the production equivalent of Illinois, Missouri, and Iowa. We know that from some satellite studies that they have got roughly 400 million acres of pasture land that could be converted over to grow crops if they converted every square inch of it over, not the Amazon. This is in pasture land. 

Most estimates suggest though that if demand stays up, that they'll probably put 40 to 50 million of those acres into production over the next decade. When you talk to South American growers, they do want to know where the future demand is going to come from. And I will tell you, even though this is a little bit outside my area of expertise, I did study geography. It's one of my degrees. And I used to love to study population pyramids.

So one thing to think about here is I always get asked by the Brazilian growers if the Chinese demand will continue. I say, I'm not a marketing expert, but I can tell you something about Chinese population. And I can say this, I don't know if you guys knew this, but right now in China, China has 388 million people that are 55 years and older. So that's 40 million more people than live in the United States that are of retirement age. 

And so there's big questions about the way their population pyramid is shaped because it has a very narrow base and an aging population. How do they spend their money? These are all big questions that we have to discuss and ask as we just think about what these global shipping lanes are going to look like and what production is going to have to look like to meet demand. So yeah, Sally, you opened a can of worms there, but this is, these are the big questions everyone's asking.


Sally Flis 



Dusty Weis 

Changing the subject just a little bit, our executive producer, Connor, was telling me about something you've been discussing lately, Eric, that totally surprised me. And that's about the weather impact of wind farms, the turbines that generate electricity across much of the plains. I know you're an expert down there in central Illinois. Anytime I drive down I-39, I see tons of them out there. Can you summarize some of the findings that you've been tracking over the years and share any recent updates on that work? Because this is fascinating to me.


Eric Snodgrass 

It is fascinating. And by the way, there are even more and more questions coming about something I know less about, which is the impact of, there's a lot of increase in solar farming happening all over the country. So we need time to study that, but we have had wind turbines around for a while. And if you look through the peer reviewed publications, so this is research done by others that I've read about in reputable journals. 

What we have found is that on the temperature side of things, the downwind side of large wind farms. So not just one turbine or 10, but big wind farms. The downwind side of wind farms, about the same footprint size as the farm itself, we've increased overnight low temperatures. And the mechanism is very familiar to anybody that maybe farms in the West, right? Anything you could do to mix out an inversion will warm overnight low temperatures. 

So in the West, if there's a big frost coming in, they'll often even hire helicopters to fly over the top of their vineyards to blow the warmer air down a loft back to the surface. Well, the wind turbines are effectively mixing up that air as well.  

But to be honest, I don't get asked a lot of questions about whether wind turbines are impacting temperatures. I get asked about precipitation. And that is something that we are still actively studying. It's very hard to study because we honestly need about 20 years of precipitation statistics to know if anything is statistically different from normal, right?

But we're working toward it, and I can give you some anecdotal evidence, also peer reviewed that we found. Back in 2018, this was the first really good case study of this. There was a big squall line of thunderstorms that was in the panhandle of Texas. And it was heading toward a town called Petersburg, where north and east of Petersburg, there is a very, very large wind farm. When the storms approached, we saw the front edge of the storm line deform around the wind farm. In other words, the wind farm clearly slowed the forward progress of the storm. It increased right where that slowdown was, precipitation rates. And we also think that it also produced a stronger hail core and the storm bent around the wind farm. And when that came out, we in the meteorological community were like, holy cow, we see it, this is it. There was nothing else there, no geographical boundary or barrier. No historical evidence that storms just kind of bend around that area. But the wind farm was there. We saw it on radar. It just came and bent around it like this, slowed the forward progress of the storm down and it made it rain like mad, but changed the future progress of that storm in a big way. 


Dusty Weis 

Almost like the front line was smashing into a mountain or some other geographical feature.


Eric Snodgrass 

Yeah, that's kind of like what it was like. And, you know, since then we've seen other cases of what seems to be like modification of storm systems, but it's anecdotal, right? I'm watching a storm system. I know where the wind farms are and you kind of see little shifts that you have to question whether or not they would have made the same shifts had the wind farms been there or not. That's why I say we need another 10 years worth of data to compare to the previous 30 and say, look, that statistically significant change in precipitation is worth noting. 

Now, all of that is to be said that I'm just sharing with you what I've seen. I don't want that to turn into somebody going, I'm going to go and complain and yell at that guy. It's what we've noticed and it's important for us to study that. I mean, we have to study these things. Otherwise, what's the point of me doing what I do? It's to understand how weather's going to have an impact on our bottom line. And that's why I look at it.


Dusty Weis 

Well, it's fascinating stuff as always. And I always learn something when I talk to you, Eric. So we always enjoy having these episodes. 

Eric Snodgrass from Nutrien Ag Solutions, thank you so much for joining us once again on this episode of the FARMSMART Podcast.


Eric Snodgrass 

Yeah, you bet. Thank you.


Dusty Weis 

That’s going to conclude this episode of The FARMSMART Podcast. New episodes arrive every month, so make sure you subscribe to The FARMSMART Podcast in your favorite app and visit nutrienagsolutions.com/FARMSMART to learn more. 

The FARMSMART Podcast is brought to you by Nutrien Ag Solutions. Our executive producer is Connor Erwin, and the show is edited by Emily Kaysinger. The FARMSMART Podcast is produced by Podcamp Media, branded podcast production for businesses. podcampmedia.com. I’m Dusty Weis. For Nutrien Ag Solutions, thanks for listening.



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