As tens of thousands of Missouri farmers head to the fields to plant spring crops, many are keeping a close eye on the weather outlook. With several years of drought depleting the soil’s moisture content, most are wondering how this year’s crop will fare. 

Recently, the National Weather Service for the Central Region released a statement for the region’s climate outlook. We’ve taken a moment to help summarize their predictions for our planting and growing season. 

El Nino vs. La Nina

Understanding the difference between El Niño and La Niña is crucial for comprehending weather patterns. El Niño is the warm phase, and La Niña is the cool phase of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) in the tropical Pacific. El Niño brings warmer and wetter conditions, while La Niña leads to cooler and drier conditions. These phases have significant impacts on global weather patterns, affecting temperature, precipitation, hurricane activity, and agricultural yields. Understanding these phenomena helps us better prepare for and respond to associated weather extremes.

The Summary

While we remain in an El Niño weather pattern, temperatures in the surface and subsurface of the Pacific are showing signs of cooling. When looking at the probability, this cooling pattern strongly favors a late spring transition to La Niña. However, experts will agree there is uncertainty of the La Niña’s potential strength. 

Translation = We may see the ‘potential’ for more rainfall in the months ahead and lessening of the drought situation. 

Climatologists are terming the potential for drought improvements with a ‘weak signal.’ Depending on which part of the glass you drink from, a ‘weak signal’ is better than ‘no signal.’ There is a weak signal for above 

Normal precipitation from the central Midwest into the central Rockies and above normal precipitation in April across the Central Midwest. 

Forecasters are also predicting that the normal instability of the spring to summer transition will be enhanced by the new global pattern, making the unsettled atmosphere more prominent and calling for the possibility of rain once or twice a week. 

Here are the three month look outs for temps and rainfall for the U.S. as well as a map that shows potential drought improvement. 

By staying informed about the transition from El Niño to La Niña and the potential impacts on precipitation and temperature, farmers can make better-informed decisions to navigate the challenges of the growing season ahead.

For more info, check out this pdf.

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