Western Farm Press. 17 August 2012. It may sound too good to be true, but a few forecasters are predicting an end to a two year drought in the U.S. and the return of normal rains later this year, a development that would cause many farmers in the Southwest to dance in their fields.
While significant climate conditions are not expected to affect U.S. agriculture this growing season, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Dr. Klaus Wolter in Colorado says Texas may benefit the most from the reformation of El Niño by as early as late August or in September this year.
Wolter is a leading climatologist at NOAA’s Earth Systems Research Laboratory at the University of Colorado in Boulder. He is the author of the Multivariate ENSO Index (MEI), a research tool he developed to analyze the six main observed climate variables over the tropical Pacific.
“We are already seeing some impact of an El Niño event in northern Colorado where rain has started falling again. But some ENSO (El Niño Southern Oscillation) events have greater impact than others. Since the late 90s, Texas has been the only place in the U.S. that received significant impact from El Niño events,” Dr. Wolter told Southwest Farm Press.
Fueled by meteorological conditions in the Equatorial Pacific region, El Niño is influenced by Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), a variation in non-equatorial sea surface temperatures. It is likened to a northern latitude version of ENSO, but on a much longer time scale. There is a fairly strong correlation between North American weather and climate and the PDO.
“Some El Niño events are milder than others in North America,” Wolter explained. “In the late 90s one such milder event had very little effect on the U.S. West Coast for example, but Texas still benefited from a wetter season.”
His long range prediction calls for greater rainfall in Texas and the potential for greater snowfall in the lower Rocky Mountains of New Mexico and Colorado. The U.S. Midwest may also benefit from increased rain patterns, but to a lesser degree. read more