Climate outlook predicts warm conditions to continue

Farm Forum

BROOKINGS, S.D. – The recent National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration Climate Outlook predicts warmer conditions to linger into winter with a mixed precipitation outlook.

“As usual precipitation continues to be the most inconsistent issue to forecast as the chances for a wetter fall have been reduced with the outlooks released Thursday,” said Laura Edwards, SDSU Extension Climate Field Specialist. “For most of the state, the expected chances for precipitation did not materialize in September.”

Edwards added that the current outlook for October continues on that trend. “Currently there is no specific indication as to whether or not South Dakota will see wetter or drier conditions during the month.”

The current longer-range models indicate chances for precipitation in the state especially in the early part of the October.

“Overall expected precipitation amounts do not look extraordinary for the month of October,” said Dennis Todey, South Dakota State Climatologist & SDSU Extension Climate Specialist.

With wetter conditions less likely, Todey said warmer than average temperatures are likely to continue into October and through the winter months.

“This warmth was expected through the main part of the winter because of the current El Nino, which will continue to affect the country through the winter,” he said. “But the additional fall warmth has been a little bit of a surprise.”

Throughout the month of September the warmth created pleasant conditions; but it has also delayed the first freeze – with only some spotty areas of frost in the east.

“With the warmer temperatures the chances for frost are likely going to be slim throughout the rest of September,” Todey said.

From a harvest standpoint, these conditions have continued to push crops to maturity, Edwards said. “With early harvest getting kicked off from the early drying of crops, the delayed frost is good news as the additional time will allow crops to continue to mature.”

She added that there seems to be limited concern for frost that would damage crops at this time. “Horticultural plants also have their reprieve on frost conditions allowing gardens to continue to produce. The only downside has been the continuation of mosquito and fly issues with the warm weather and lack of frost,” she said.

The lack of precipitation will also allow for continued progress on harvest. “At this time there is little excessive precipitation expected,” she said.

Future outlook

The outlooks for the rest of the winter leave South Dakota “in the middle.”

“The NOAA outlooks hint at wetter conditions possible throughout the winter, mostly to the south of the state, while indicating drier conditions north of South Dakota throughout much of the winter,” Todey said. “Thus, the outlook for South Dakota is rather mixed for precipitation.”

These winter precipitation outlooks are rather difficult to assess. “The impact of El Nino on precipitation in the region is not very clear. And even in an overall dry winter, one large storm can throw off precipitation totals because the winter precipitation averages are so low. Even in the middle of an El Nino winter we cannot forecast an individual event,” he said.

The take home message – El Nino is currently on track for winter with warmer than average conditions still quite likely. Though it is impossible to guarantee,” Todey said. “As for harvest season – it should continue without major issues are crops are able to mature.