Summer climate outlook shows uncertainty
BROOKINGS, S.D. – The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) climate outlook for July through September, released June 21, 2018, shows a lot of uncertainty for the remainder of the growing season, explained Laura Edwards, SDSU Extension State Climatologist.
“According to the NOAA Climate Prediction Center, most of South Dakota is in an area with equal chances of warmer, cooler or near average temperatures for the rest of the summer season,” Edwards said. “There is a lot of uncertainty in the longer range forecast this season.”
The precipitation outlook for the Northern Plains is equally unclear.
“There has not been much agreement in the computer models that forecasters use for seasonal climate outlooks. Within a single month or a three-month season, there can be small regions of both very wet or very dry conditions that are difficult to forecast,” Edwards said.
Edwards explained that in our region, summer is often very challenging for climate outlooks. “This year is no exception. As an example, so far this spring there has been large variability between wet and dry areas in the state,” she said.
Emerging drought in the northeast and east central has been relatively local, and has not been widespread. This has been a contrast to excessive wet conditions in the southeast, where flooding is again impacting the area this week.
“This kind of variability, within a single state, is challenging to capture in a forecast on a national scale,” Edwards said.
The western region of the state has gradually improved out of drought conditions and is now drought-free according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.
“Abnormally dry conditions remain, with some lingering concerns in local areas for forage and pasture conditions, but overall there has been sufficient rains to maintain water supplies for livestock and grass production,” she explained.
Moisture will be critical, Edwards explained, as we enter corn pollination in eastern South Dakota which begins early July.
She added that because late June and early July will likely be warmer than average, rainfall will be more important during the next month. “Moisture stress during pollination can have a negative effect on corn yield,” she said.
Some soybean areas are dry in the east central and northeastern part of the state.
“This crop has been slow to develop,” Edwards said. “And, since rainfall is needed to activate many herbicides, weed management has been a challenge. It is hopeful that some recent moisture in the last two weeks will improve growing and post-emerge weed management conditions.”