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How warmer temperatures in February affects plant and insects

With abnormally warm temperatures across Mid-Missouri, some plants are starting of their initial processes towards getting ready for the spring bloom.

Most plants make their determination of when to break out of their winter modes by the temperatures of the soil. As air temperatures have continued to increase, the soil temperature has followed suit with the 2" soil temperature hitting 54 degrees and the 4" soil temperature topping out at 50 degrees at Sanborn Field in Columbia.

This allows plants to become less hardy, meaning they are in more danger of cold snaps later this winter or spring causing cold injuries such as browning leaves and flowers during the blooming period.

Above shows a typically time period for spring leafing for trees, but as temperatures continue to reach into the mid-70s, this time period could be sped up.

The warmer temperatures that set up plants to see negative affects of a cold snap also affect insects as insects rely on plants for food sources. With less healthy plants, there could be less insects for some species.

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Chance Gotsch

Chance Gotsch grew up just south of St. Louis and moved to Columbia to attend the University of Missouri to pursue a degree in Atmospheric Sciences.

His interest in weather begin as a child when he used to be afraid of storms.

Chance joined the ABC 17 Stormtrack Weather Team in February 2021. He is currently the weekday noon meteorologist.


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