A new round of El Niño weather is on the way, says Art Douglass, professor emeritus, Creighton University, and weather analyst for Cattle Fax, during the 2017 Cattle Industry Convention, Feb. 2. Warmer temperatures for the next six months will usher in a positive planting season in the Midwest with optimal precipitation for the growing season. Summer weather will turn warmer and drier.
"It's been about 20 years since we've had two separate El Niño patterns back to back," Douglass says. "The last time we deal with that was in the early 90's."
Recent rains in December have eased California's dry patter, but after five years of persistent drought, deep moisture is still needed. After February, forecasters see a warmer and drier pattern emerge in the West.
In the eastern U.S., a warming equator will favor a return of warmer than normal (+1-degree) temperatures. This warmth will keep the South in drought conditions through spring.
The weak La Niña in late 2016 set the stage for the Southeast to develop drought conditions, and the incoming El Niño will let those conditions persist through spring.
In the Central Plains and western Corn Belt, precipitation will be above normal through the spring months with cooler temperatures through spring into summer
Summer conditions will offer a mild growing season for many farmers and ranchers. Warmer temperatures in the West will creep farther inland, with average to slightly cooler temperatures to the Midwest. Precipitation will return to the Southeast and the Ohio Valley and central and southern plains.
"It looks like this time around the drought in the southeast will be broken very quickly," Douglas says. "The problem with El Niño developing this early is it, we typically have a monsoon season in the Southwest and if there is a concern of drought developing it will be in the Pacific Northwest because high pressure ridging is typical.
To view the current U.S. drought monitor, visit: http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/.