El Niño conditions continue to gradually build, according to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology. The bureau says, "While tropical Pacific sea surface temperatures and the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI), approached or exceeded El Niño values during the past fortnight (two weeks), other indicators such as the trade winds and tropical cloud patterns have yet to show typical El Niño signatures. Climate models surveyed by the Bureau of Meteorology suggest sea surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean will maintain values close to, or greater than, typical El Niño thresholds before returning to neutral towards the end of 2012 or early 2013." (That's from this morning's First Thing Today.)
Several potential implications in this. El Nino conditions typically increase the chances for normal to above-normal rains in the Midwest. A transition away from El Nino to La Nina increases the chances of normal to below-normal rains while a La Nina increases the chances of below-normal rains.
Lets face it... we've got an exceptionally "weak" stalk and shank in the eastern Corn Belt right now, but we desperately need to recharge soil moisture supplies for the 2013 crops. Hurricane Isaac seems prepared to bring some of that moisture into the eastern Belt this week, but potential heavy rains and winds are only going to make the Indiana, Illinois and Missouri corn crops even smaller than they already are.
So... it's hard to say "no" to the chance for eastern Belt rains this week to help recharge soil moisture, but I'd sure like to see most of the corn (that's there) harvested before the rains hit.