Specialist predicts wetter fall
August 29, 2016
Is La Nina just around the corner? According to a recent outlook of projects released by the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center, it appears La Nina is on its way, bringing warmer, wetter conditions this fall and winter.
Laura Edwards, South Dakota State University (SDSU) climate field specialist, spoke about the implications of La Nina for South Dakota beef producers at the 2016 DakotaFest held in Mitchell on August 16-18.
"The patterns we've seen the last couple of weeks with more precipitation on the eastern side of South Dakota are very much consistent with La Nina," she said. "As August comes to an end, the forecasts are favoring increased chances of precipitation to transition into September. However, September is looking like it will have year average temperatures and precipitation, but by October, the signals are more clear that slightly wetter and warmer conditions will emerge."
The U.S. Drought Monitor reported Aug. 9 that over 50 percent of South Dakota is experiencing moderate (D1) drought, with 9 percent of the state in severe (D2) drought and 5 percent in extreme (D3) drought. Since then, the areas of drought and the severity has increased, and Edwards said some timely rains would be greatly beneficial to producers.
"Projections are indicating that a large region of the northern Great Plains will experience wetter conditions in the weeks and months ahead," said Edwards. "This is great for the growing season, but could be a mixed bag once we get to harvest time. Hopefully, we can catch some good weather and the grains are mature and dry enough to harvest."
While fall rains could offer some reprieve to drought-stricken areas in the region, Edwards said producers should prepare for a much colder winter season.
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"The projections for December 2016-February 2017 are leaning very heavy into La Nina conditions with cooler than average temperatures," she said. "Precipitation predictions are less clear, but reports indicate it could be a dryer than normal winter season. We aren't expecting a really strong La Nina this year, but we will certainly see some impact in this area.
La Nina occurs due to the cooling of the eastern Pacific Ocean near the equator, which changes the atmospheric circulation. Much variability can be expected; however, Edwards recommended producers utilize available resources to track meteorological conditions as clearer trends begin to emerge.
"I encourage producers to check SDSU's igrow.org and http://www.climate4you.com for weather updates," she said. "SDSU Climate and Weather also has Mesonet Real-Time Data available at climate.sdstate.edu which shows current conditions, forecast, history and severe weather warnings. The Mesonet is available for desktop, tablet and smartphones."
In addition to La Nina implications, SDSU Extension educators presented on a wide range of topics at DakotaFest including the value of pregnancy checking the cow herd, managing for late season crop insect pests, maintaining range and pasture health, capitalizing on manure and trends of farm operators and households.