El Nino Comes Roaring Back

June 17, 2009 07:00 PM

By Jim Dickrell, editor Dairy Today

El Nino, the warming of the Pacific Ocean, is roaring back and could be a force in U.S. weather patterns within the next few weeks.

That’s according to Drew Lerner, a climatologist with World Weather, Inc., speaking at the FCStone/Downes-O’Neill annual Market Outlook Conference here in Chicago this week.

  Subsurface ocean temperatures in the western Pacific have been warming for months, and those higher temperatures are moving east and rising to the surface. Those higher ocean temps then have an affect on weather patters moving across the United States.  

The result is that rainfall could be 25% higher than normal in the western three-quarters of the United States July through September. “We’re already in wet cycle this year, so the El Nino affect could exacerbate that trend,” says Lerner.  

But El Nino could also mean an earlier-than-normal frost over much of the corn belt. “I am concerned,” he says. That could be problematic for late-planted corn and soybeans in Iowa, Illinois and Indiana.  

An El Nino year also means fewer than normal hurricanes. While that’s good news from a property damage perspective, it also means less moisture for Texas and the southeastern U.S., which is already dry.  

Bottomline: California could see a replenishment of water reserves, continued wet conditions in the corn belt and drier than normal conditions along the eastern seaboard.

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