Climate Outlook Pronounces El Niño is Dead



BROOKINGS, S.D. – The climate outlook for July through September 2016 tells a story of warmer conditions and potentially wetter than average for the season ahead, said Laura Edwards, SDSU Extension Climate Field Specialist.


Edwards points to the June 16, 2016 Climate Update released by National Oceanic Atmospheric Association (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center. 


“For South Dakota, the three months ahead are slightly more likely to be warmer than average,” said Edwards. “This projection is due to the atmospheric patterns that are expected, but also due to drier soils in much of the area. These dry soils can increase temperature near the surface faster than wet soils.”

July precipitation outlook


Based on the outlook, Edwards said that during July, precipitation across most of the country, including South Dakota, is projected to have equal chances of being below, near or above average. 


A different story unfolds as the seasonal outlook shows wetter than average conditions are more likely in the three-month period ahead, when you include August and September.


“This is a change from previous climate outlooks that have been released by NOAA in recent months,” Edwards said.


El Niño has been officially pronounced “dead” this month.


“The majority of indicators no longer show El Niño-like temperatures and circulation patterns. We are now in the Neutral phase of El Niño, which is neither El Niño nor La Niña,” Edwards said, pointing to the latest NOAA outlook and others, which shows 70 percent or greater likelihood of La Niña conditions to begin sometime in the August-October period. 


The same likelihood remains for La Nina to continue through the 2016-17 winter season.


“The latest July through September climate outlooks reflect this transition from El Niño to La Niña during the summer season,” Edwards said.


She added that in eastern South Dakota, La Niña patterns in August tend to bring wetter conditions to that region. In September and October, the historical patterns are less clear, but lean towards warmer than average in October.

What does this mean to agriculture?


The impacts on agriculture are somewhat difficult to determine this year. 


“It is not often that South Dakota has warmer and wetter conditions in combination in the summer season,” Edwards said.


She explained that it is more common to experience warm and dry conditions together. “Overall, this could be good news for row crop conditions given the critical pollination period for corn and physiological growth in soybeans, spring wheat, sunflowers and other crops,” she said.


Rapid increases in temperature, along with the potential high humidity, should be monitored closely for potential heat stress in the cattle and livestock areas as the summer progresses. 


Pasture and forage productivity relies more on spring rainfall, but some moderate heat could be tolerated during this summer's grazing season in the eastern part of the state. 

Moderate drought in Western South Dakota


Western South Dakota had drier conditions this spring, as moderate drought has crept into the region in recent weeks. There have already been some reports of lower than average forage production this year.  

“Additional warm temperatures could exacerbate the drought conditions that have already affected the area,” Edwards said.








Source:  iGrow, SDSU Extension



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