U.S. will see ideal weather, moisture: climatologist

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — An El Nino is expected to arrive this spring, bringing good growing conditions to the Western Hemisphere but doom for drought-ravaged Australia.


The weather phenomenon, which is caused by warm ocean water, should deliver much needed rain to the southwestern United States and good growing conditions for the U.S. Plains, said climatologist Art Douglas of Creighton University in Nebraska.


“El Nino is coming,” he told a market outlook session held during last week’s National Cattlemen’s Beef Association conference in Nashville. 


Sea surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean are warming quickly, which signals the beginning of an El Nino. Warmer water alters the path of jet streams that move weather around the world. 


“There is a tremendous amount of energy, and that is a good setup for an El Nino,” he said Feb. 5. 


“It is going to come quick, and it is going to come by the summer.” 


Most of the grain growing regions of the U.S. will have near ideal growing conditions with good moisture in the spring and a warm summer. There should also be fewer hurricanes. 


Temperatures in most of Canada tend to be warmer and drier during the winter of an El Nino. 


The Palmer drought index for the U.S. shows dry areas are shrinking, but significantly arid conditions continue in the southwest with California suffering the worst. However, California received 75 millimetres of rain the day after Douglas delivered his annual forecast. 


This year’s El Nino should also relieve drought in Argentina but reverse rainfall patterns and leave Brazil drier than normal. 


As well, it will dry out Australia starting by July. The continent is already suffering under a burdensome drought that has forced one of the largest cow culls in three decades because of the lack of pasture. 


South Asia will be wetter than normal, but west-central India and northern China could dry up starting by July. Both have had ideal winter wheat growing conditions.

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