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First look at 2016 growing season weather

Storm clouds form behind the Pillsbury, N.D., elevator in this file photo.
Storm clouds form behind the Pillsbury, N.D., elevator in this file photo.
It may be best to be prepared for some amount of warm, dry conditions," says SDSU climate field specialist.

Winter will be likely be warmer than average due during the current strong El Nino conditions in the Pacific, but what will the growing season following an El Nino winter be like?

Laura Edwards, SDSU Extension Climate Field Specialist, suggests looking back at 1982-1983 and 1997-1998, which had comparable El Ninos.

"In both summers of 1983 and 1998, warmer than average conditions affected eastern South Dakota, with the largest temperature anomalies centered on Iowa," she says.

Differences arose in the precipitation for each season. Edwards said that in 1983, near average or wet conditions occurred statewide during the spring season. Then dry conditions prevailed most of the summer, during July, August and September. "At any given time during the 1983 growing season, there was some level of minor to moderate drought conditions somewhere in the state," she said.

In 1998, June and July were notably wet in western/southwestern South Dakota, though the entire growing season ended up above average for rainfall in those areas. July 1998 had some short-term drought in the northern tier counties, and then September was exceptionally dry and warm. 

"It is too early to tell for sure what summer 2016 will bring, but after looking at two recent summers following strong El Niños, it may be best to be prepared for some amount of warm and dry conditions," Edwards said.

Edwards said East River counties tend to be more susceptible to drought during summers like those in West River. 

Source: SDSU Extension Service

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