Weather Experts: “Get Used to the Drought”


by Bryce Anderson, DTN Ag Meteorologist and DTN Analyst

OMAHA (DTN) — Get used to the drought. That was the message repeatedly sent by government weather and climate experts during a conference call Thursday on the forecast for August through October.

US Drought Monitor, July 17, 2012

“There is a high probability of above-normal temperatures during August, and definitely over the central Midwest,” said Dan Collins, a meteorologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center (CPC). “Soil moisture feedback due to the drought is a big factor in that,” he added. Below-normal precipitation is also listed as a “high probability” in this same region.

The NOAA/CPC outlook for August through October calls for temperatures to remain above normal across the central U.S. with below-normal precipitation also likely. “The only areas with above-normal precipitation during August through October will be in the southwestern U.S. and the central Gulf Coast,” Collins said.

The NOAA/CPC outlook does not extend past the next 90 days. “After the three-month period, forecasts basically go to climatology normals,” Collins said. Regarding any chance for improving rainfall, Collins was reluctant to sound very hopeful.

“In the August through October period, we may see some improvement in the eastern U.S., but not much farther west,” he said. “The timeframe for ending this drought is hard to say.”

As to the possibility of the Pacific Ocean temperatures warming enough to generate an El Nino pattern, NOAA/CPC forecasters placed the odds of El Nino at slightly over half — at around a 66{6b02cb02835b82b7f756ddf6717aaab7139b350de274ea97f5b53eb230607107} chance. But that does not translate into high hopes for significant moisture improvement.

“We would expect to see below-normal precipitation in the northern states during an El Nino winter, and above normal in the southern areas,” Collins said. “And, if El Nino develops and continues into the winter, we would also expect the below-normal precipitation area to extend from the northern states south through the central U.S.” In other words, the Northern Plains through the central Midwest would be dry through the winter.

When asked about how much worse the 2012 drought could get, the NOAA/CPC scientists had no speculation. However, “it is possible for the hardest-hit drought areas to go into 2013 with continued drought,” Collins said.

© Copyright 2012 DTN/The Progressive Farmer, A Telvent Brand. All rights reserved.

Posted with DTN Permission by Haylie Shipp


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