Current dry weather across Missouri follows a historic trend of dry winters following dry falls, according to a study by climatologists at the University of Missouri.

The fall of 1999 ranked as one of the driest in the past 100 years across the state, said Wayne Decker, professor emeritus of atmospheric science.

In response to increasing questions about dry weather, Decker and fellow weather researchers Pat Guinan of the MU Commercial Agriculture program, and Adnan Akyuz, state climatologist studied historic records to find what was "usual."

The results aren't optimistic.

The MU scientists found that north Missouri received 1 inch or less of precipitation during each winter month in half of the

years following dry falls. In one out of four years the monthly totals were less than three-quarters of an inch.

The prospect is better in southern Missouri.

Southeast Missouri received in excess of three inches of precipitation each month for half of the years. One out for four years the precipitation exceeds four inches.

In a typical spring, rainfall improves in north and central Missouri, with half the years producing 3 to 4 inches of precipitation each month.

The climatologists conclude that this winter the Bootheel has a good chance of receiving sufficient precipitation to replenish soil moisture.

However, north Missouri doesn't have high likelihood of being similarly favored.

By March the chances for significant rain greatly improve across the state.

The climatologists studied weather records for the past 110 years at 20 locations. The sites were located across Missouri so that regional differences could be examined, Decker said.

At each location, the climatologists identified the 10 years with the driest autumns. Then, they tabulated the precipitation for the following winter and spring seasons.

They found the chance for below-normal precipitation was 60%. The chance for above-normal precipitation was 40%.

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