Turbulent clouds foretell rain farmers don’t need right now

By: 
Duane Dailey

Spectacular clouds bring super rains and lightening. For two days, Friday and Saturday, we had sky shows in Columbia. Fascinating, but threatening clouds rushed in.

Today’s storms don’t arrive unannounced. We’re foretold of coming heavy rains. My cellphone yelps alerts. I’ve received more emergency calls this spring than ever.

I knew these were coming, just not the great intensity.

The previous Tuesday, Pat Guinan, MU Extension climatologist, gave a heads up. In our weekly MU crops teleconference, he gives updates. This year, weather has been key messages from state to regional specialists.

Guinan told of the dry week we’d just had. But, he said a wet week or more was coming. That’s what I see now.

His maps showed two massive air masses over the United States. The North and West half was dry and cool. The Southeast half was warm and moist.

He said a line would set up from Texas panhandle across the Plains, into the Corn Belt exiting beyond the Great Lakes. That stationary line goes through Central Missouri, including Columbia.

That front hosts a series of storms, as turbulence pops up when extreme air masses meet.

I was walking my Ag beat on campus Friday morning. So, I saw what was coming. From weather classes decades ago, I remembered names of clouds. The name stuck in my mind. They are Cumulus Mammatus. This front moving quickly had an underbelly of mounds of clouds. The original namer of this sight was reminded of mammary glands.

Great activity could be seen in the clouds. The protrusions indicated turbulence.

By the time I reached my car in the garage to drive to Animal Science Center the night lights in the garage came on. Soon street lights came on.

There were enough thick clouds overhead to block a bright morning sun.

I got inside just before those clouds dumped loads of water. The secretary ran out to move her car. She’d arrived early to get a spot under a shade tree.

She didn’t want a tree toppled on her car. By then the wind bent trees over. The wind seemed to want to open the door even wider, when I entered.

By then, huge raindrops were bouncing off the street.

Meantime my cellphone alerted me to “Severe Thunderstorm Activity.”

Sure enough thunder boomers began resonating across campus. Those were close. I tuned in a regional radio with Doppler radar crew describing what they saw across North Missouri. The base, and most violent, area, formed along the Missouri River. The peak of a triangle of clouds reached Iowa. There was a big hole in the middle. So the storm would come and go in some areas to the north. As it developed northern Boone County had most of the activity. 

The peak of the activity traveled along I-70 to St. Louis and beyond.

What a show. But, from the teleconference I knew farmers did not need more rain.

Later I read that a historic record was set Friday for one day of rain in June. Rains continued into Sunday. Farmers don’t need this.

In the week before, there was huge catch up to almost finishing corn planting. Also, there was catch up on soybeans which were way late.

Hay makers cut and baled lots of forage for winter. At that, some was put up damp. Not good for safe hay.

Meanwhile, Kevin Bradley, weed specialist, was urging farmers to attend Pest Management Day, July 9 at MU Bradford Farm. Specialists say talks are different this year. Pest controls change with delayed crops.

His show starts at 8 a.m. that day. Lunch is served, but there’s a $10 fee for book and meal.

Bradley works on weed controls different from the past, working without chemicals that create resistant weeds.

Long ago, I’d quoted him saying there is no resistance to sharp steel.

See ya July 9.

Send cloud and weed reports to daileyd@missouri.edu.

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