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Better farming weather likely

Expert predicts colder winter, normal summer

STERLING – The weather is expected to be kinder to farmers in the coming months.

Eric Apel, an agricultural meteorologist based near Peoria, spoke during the 2012 Northwestern Illinois Farm Show at the Westwood Fitness & Sports Center.

Unlike last year, this winter is expected to be colder than normal, with above-average snowfall, Apel said. That will create more soil moisture, helping farmers during the planting season.

“Warm surges of air will happen, but they won’t stick around,” Apel said.

The patterns will stay in place until early spring, with a good chance for snowfall in March and frosts in April, he said. That’s unlike last March, when Illinois and much of the country saw some of the warmest weather on record for that time of year.

Meteorologists expect large temperature swings in April, bringing severe weather to the area, Apel said.

The region will get normal or just below normal precipitation in the spring, he said.

A more normal summer is expected next year, in sharp contrast to this year’s dry weather in June and July, which hurt the corn harvest.

“I don’t see anything like that playing out again. Could it happen? Sure, but I just don’t see it,” he said.

A man in the audience asked Apel what meteorologists’ predictions were last year.

“We predicted a cold and snowy winter, and we were wrong,” he said.

The expected weather patterns didn’t stay in place, he said, adding that he didn’t want to point fingers.

Asked about climate change after his presentation, Apel said he didn’t believe global warming was taking place. He said he couldn’t find a link between climate change and weather systems.

“The globe has a tendency to balance itself out,” he said. “We were warm last year, but the other part of the world was cold.”

The issue has become politically “overcharged,” Apel said.

“The debate is not settled.”

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