Martell: Climate Corrects for Extreme Weather

February 13, 2012 12:20 AM

Meteorologist Gail Martell of has provided the following highlights:

Climate Corrects For Extreme Weather

Extremely cold weather has overtaken Europe where temperatures fell 15-20 F below normal this week. Bitter cold weather now affects Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, northern China and Europe. Only North America has been exempted, just recently becoming sharply colder. Conditions in January had been unseasonably mild; indeed, it was one of warmest Januarys on record.

Nature has a way of self-correcting to keep balance in the global heat budget. The large-scale winds and ocean currents readjust when the climate becomes too extreme, in this instance, too warm for too long in North America. The jet stream carves out deeper troughs that deliver polar air to the mid-latitudes. The high-amplitude waves in the jet stream are a way of redistributing heat and cold, so that the earth heat budget remains in balance.

Turning Suddenly Cold in United States Heartland

A cold wave is developing in the United States heartland interrupting a long stretch of winter warmth. Friday morning temperatures in Saskatchewan were -20 to -25 F. Polar air Friday plunged into the United States setting off snow showers in the Great Lakes region and dropping night temperatures 10-15 F zero F. January was exceptionally warm, as recorded temperatures ranked among the highest 10% on record.

US cold wave

South Brazil Crops in Decline, Not Reflected in USDA February Report

Argentina crops got a boost from heavy rainfall in late January and February, but South Brazil crops have gone downhill in the major farm states Parana and Rio Grande do Sul. The last important rain in South Brazil occurred January 10. At the same time, a February heat wave has developed raising temperatures to the upper 90s F and 9-10 F above normal in South Brazil.

South Brazil Drought

USDA held with a 61 million metric ton (MMT) corn estimate in Brazil. Yet the local farm association Ag Rural Commodities in January reduced its estimate for the summer corn harvest by 4.3% citing damage from a 13-week drought. Parana is Brazil's largest corn state. The summer harvest makes up about two-thirds of Brazil corn.

USDA pegged Brazil soybeans 2 MMT lower, pegged the new harvest at 72 MMTs. That would be 4-5% below last year's record 75.50 MMT.

USDA was on target with Argentina crop estimates, accurately assessing damage from intense heat and drought. Corn production by slashed 4 MMT (15%) to 22 MMT in the February report. Recent heavy rainfall in Argentina was deemed too late for corn, already suffering irreversible damage in the pollination stage. Local source says soybeans have stabilized with soaking rainfall yet production would not improve much. Only the late plantings would benefit. The new Argentina soybean estimate was cut 5 % to 48 MMT, and slightly worse than last year's 49 MMT.

Global Wheat Supplies Deemed Abundant, New Crop Potential Worrisome

Global wheat production was tweaked a little in the February USDA report, still indicating record high ending stocks. The focus is on record wheat harvests in India, Australia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan in the growing season just ended. Sufficient but not overly abundant wheat production was obtained in China, the European Union, Russia, Ukraine and Canada.

The U.S., the world’s leading wheat exporter, saw production and ending stocks shrink, due to a devastating drought in the Great Plains bread-basket.

Canada drought

Not much consideration is being given to new crop potential, wheat that will be gathered in 2012-13. There is plenty to worry about. Drought has seriously damaged U.S. hard red winter wheat for the second year in a row. The Canadian prairies are exceptionally dry from a late-summer and fall drought, creating the need for much above-normal precipitation in the new crop season for a chance at a good yield. Ukraine wheat losses may reach 30% from a historic drought, perhaps even worse, if winterkill occurs in already-weakened wheat. East European wheat potential has also been compromised by very severe fall drought in Poland , Hungary, Romania and Slovakia.



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