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Beefs and Beliefs

Return of El Nino Could Bring Rains To Cattle Country

Return of El Nino Could Bring Rains To Cattle Country
El Nino computer-prediction models suggest even the dry West could get above-normal rainfall.


The Pacific Ocean is warming off the US coast and implying we could return to the El Nino phase of the El Nino-Southern Oscillation cycle, commonly called ENSO by meteorologists.

This should be good news for the majority of US agricultural regions, says Art Douglas, a Creighton University meteorologist and professor emeritus who also works for CattleFax.

CattleFax meteorologist Art Douglas says wetter weather should be on the way.

In fact, Douglas says the majority of the computer models, based on current changes in ocean temperatures and past weather patterns, suggest a wetter than usual spring and summer for most of the US cropping and grazing areas. Even the droughty Southwest could get some extra moisture before rainfall wanes into the normal summer monsoon season, Douglas says.

The bad news Douglas offers is that the drought in the southwestern Great Plains and Rocky Mountain states will push up into the northwest.

This is all classic ENSO expectations for El Nino weather. The El Nino phase, remember, forms as warmer water in the equatorial Pacific pushes up into the more central Pacific and delivers much more energy and moisture into the weather flowing from the ocean across the continental US.

Douglas says much of the country should have a warm, wetter spring and that growing conditions in the Midwest should be ideal through summer.

Specifically, he says by late winter and into spring moisture should improve from east Texas up into the Midwest. It could be wet enough to delay planting in some areas, especially in the western Corn Belt.

Douglas also predicts the drought-damaged West could begin to see increased rainfall/snow by right away and could get above-average moisture by March. This would be good news for graziers across a huge area of cattle country and Douglas adds that temperatures in that region could stay cooler than normal March through May.

He adds that temperatures across the Midwest could be cooler than normal into late summer. Also, the West Coast could even get some much-needed rain this spring and summer as a high-pressure ridge drifts west and allows a trough to come in and create conditions for that moisture.

From the standpoint of its effect on global feed-grain production, Douglas says Australia will suffer even more drought, as has been typical of El Nino cycles. He adds that Argentina will benefit from the increasing El Nino cycle but that will not be enough to produce a particularly good crop this year in South America.

Douglas also showed charts on huge Arctic and Antarctic ice packs and said this is further evidence against the global warming/climate change hypothesis. He said the Arctic ice pack is large and stable and the Antarctic ice pack is record-large and growing.

If carbon dioxide was warming the atmosphere as the global-warming apologists claim, Douglas says, the polar ice caps could not be expanding.

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