Floods, Drought and Freezing Predicted for 2012

December 7, 2011 06:57 AM
Floods, Drought and Freezing Predicted for 2012

Following a banner year of extreme weather, La Niña looks to take control again.

2011 was a banner year for weather. Tornadoes, drought, floods and hail stole headlines, wreaked havoc on crops and pastures and had hundreds of counties classified as disaster areas.
Jeff Doran, Planalytics senior business meteorologist, says this year was the third coolest spring in 10 years and the 11th wettest in 116 years, which set the stage for delayed planting and setbacks all season long.
"Rarely was there a time during this growing season where weather wasn’t a major concern," he says. In the early part of May, only 15% of corn was planted; the five-year average for that time is around 45% planted.
Additionally, he says, the excessive rain caused 1.1 million acres of cropland to be impacted by flooding.

The Year Ahead

Looking to 2012, Fred Gesser, Planalytics senior global agricultural meteorologist, says the signals show the U.S. will experience back-to-back La Niña weather patterns. But, he says, not all La Niñas are the same.
Here are the concerns Gesser has about a repeat of La Niña:
Flooding damage: Those affected by floods this past spring and summer could likely see a repeat of high water. Gesser says the Upper Missouri River Basin will receive above normal precipitation for the third consecutive year. The flooding may be a delayed process like last year, where flood levels were not seen until all of the snowpack melted.
Planting delays: "I think we’ll have back-to-back years of planting delays," Gesser says. Wet conditions in the Ohio Valley, Tennessee Valley and Mississippi Delta will likely last through spring.
Widespread drought: The devastating drought seen in Texas and surrounding areas is set to expand during the 2012 growing season. Gesser says the dry conditions are predicted to extend into the western Corn Belt in such states as Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota and Missouri.
Freezing potential: This weather pattern heightens the risk of a hard freeze in citrus areas. Gesser says California is at the biggest risk, but fruit growers in Florida and Texas could also see freeze or frost conditions as early as this week.
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