The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) says although below-average sea surface temperatures (SST) prevailed across the eastern half of the equatorial Pacific during January, ENSO-neutral conditions continued and are expected to linger into spring.
"The vast majority of models predict near-average SST (between -0.5oC and +0.5oC) in the Nino-3.4 region through the late Northern Hemisphere summer," says NOAA. "However, because model skill is generally low during April-June, there is less confidence in the forecast beyond the spring. Thus, ENSO-neutral is favored through Northern Hemisphere spring 2013."
NOAA also updated its Seasonal Drought Outlook, which reflects a slight shift across Iowa compared to last month in the area that is expected to see drought improvement. Today's update isn't as promising for drought improvement, but still suggests some improvement in drought across central Iowa, and lingering drought across western Iowa. Meanwhile, drought is expected to persist from the bulk of South Dakota southward across Texas.
Juli says: While notable drought improvement has been seen across the eastern Corn Belt, there is still a lot of work to do across the western Corn Belt ahead of spring planting. The drought footprint is projected to be larger at the start of planting compared to a year-ago. And, with ENSO-neutral conditions expected to linger, significant drought improvement is not expected.