Climate cutlook for January 2015

Farm Forum

BROOKINGS — Review of the new long range climate outlooks released today from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center indicate that the wide variability in temperature swings of fall and winter are likely to continue; and the potential for a weak El Niño lingers, explained Dennis Todey, South Dakota State Climatologist & SDSU Extension Climate Specialist.

“Weather conditions over the state have seen some large temperature shifts,” he said, referencing the warm October, early cold in November and average December climate conditions.

According to new outlooks, Todey said colder than average conditions once again look to cover the region from late December into at least the first few weeks of January.

“The eight to14-day outlooks and other computer models are consistent in bringing a cold push across the area into the early part of January as the jet stream pattern shifts again to build a ridge of high pressure along the west coast and allow more cold air into the middle part of the country,” Todey said.

The full 30-day outlook for January is not as confident that cold temperatures will linger throughout entire state. “Indications that colder than average temperatures will linger for the whole 30-day period is only likely across the southern part of South Dakota and into Nebraska,” Todey said.

The impact Todey sees of this pattern shift is to bring at least a temporary end to the warm conditions for much of December. “Even the recent colder period of the last week has been fairly close to average for this time of the year,” he said.

“Livestock producers will have to prepare for colder conditions for cattle after the recent mild period,” said Laura Edwards, SDSU Extension Climate Field Specialist. For crop producers, she added that snow cover from the recent winter storm will provide some protection for winter wheat fields in areas of the state ahead of the upcoming colder conditions.

The precipitation outlooks have little to say about potentially wetter or drier conditions into the month of January.

According to the NOAA outlook, conditions in the Pacific continue to be borderline El Niño conditions. “The NOAA outlook has increased to a 65 percent chance of an El Niño occurring this winter,” Edwards said. “The chance of the El Niño still happening is reflected in parts of the 90-day outlooks with wetter and cooler conditions across the southern United States.”

For the northern plains, Edwards said there is little in the way of indications on temperature or precipitation for the rest of the winter. “The weak potential El Niño does not appear to be causing much influence throughout our area for the rest of the winter,” she said.

The U.S. Drought Monitor has reflected the drier conditions of the fall with increased areas of Abnormally Dry (D0) conditions throughout nearly all of eastern South Dakota and a small area of Moderate Drought (D1) in the far northeast corner where dry conditions prevailed from mid-summer on. “The recent ice and snow event did little to change the drought status because most of the current issue is dry soil conditions,” Todey said.

He explained that frozen soils likely did not get much benefit from the week of Dec. 15, 2014 precipitations. “Except for maybe some areas in the southeast part of the state where well above freezing temperatures last weekend likely thawed the soil enough to allow some soil moisture recovery from rainfall,” he said.

Todey said amounts of precipitation were not sufficient to indicate improvements in the U.S. Drought Monitor status at this time.

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