Cold and wintry outbreaks of snow across the eastern Midwest will likely continue fairly regularly throughout winter. If there's a drier portion to winter, it's likely to be later in the season. Overall, most of the country will be somewhat drier than normal for the winter, except for the Northeastern U.S.
That's some of the highlights from the forecast issued exclusively for Farm Progress Companies by Greg Soulje recently. Cold outbreaks followed by snowy episodes and more cold outbreaks, a pattern that began in very early December, could continue.
The major piece of news coming out of Soulje's latest report was that the la Nina event now underway is at a moderate level, and is expected to intensify. If it does, it will likely persist into spring. La Nina is the cold phase of the El Nino/La Nina cycle.
The terms refer to cooling and warming of Pacific Ocean waters off the equator. Exactly where the warming occurs and how big of an area is impacted in the ocean determines the timing and intensity of the events. The changes in temperature affect atmospheric pressure, which in turn impacts air currents aloft. Even the jet stream's pattern is affected. The result is that this cycle can influence weather patterns around the globe, and often does.
Crop fortunes in various parts of the world end up tied to the El Nino/La Nina cycle. Climatologists first figured out the importance of using this information to forecast cop outcomes around the world years ago, notes Jim Newman, a retired ag meteorologist. Back in the days of the USSR, the Russians shared very little information. But American markets finally figured out why they needed so much wheat one year, with the help of ag climatologists. The cycle had produced a crop failure in the wheat -growing region of the country that showed clearly on global weather maps, once they were available.
Earlier reports from both the National Weather Service and the state climatologist in Indiana indicated that the La Nina would continue into winter, but then phase out. If Soulje is right and it actually intensifies and continues longer than previously expected, that could impact summer weather patterns across the Corn Belt for 2011. Exactly how those impacts would play out is still too early to know.
Watch weather reports here on the Website and check out Soulje's article n print coming soon in the January issue of Indiana Prairie Farmer magazine.