Meteorologist Brad Rippey says even though the El Nino pattern is still strong over the entire country right now, there are likely changes on the horizon.
“If you look at all of the moderate-to-strong El Ninos we’ve had over the last 75 years or so, they are almost always followed by a fairly quick transition to La Nina,” Rippey says. “It’s almost like there’s a boomerang effect.” We’re now experiencing the third “super El Nino” weather pattern since the early 1980s and if the pattern holds, a La Nina pattern could emerge soon and bring drought conditions.
“We’re pretty confident and even the two-dozen or so models that try to forecast the ocean and atmospheric states looking ahead to the summer,” he says, “we’ll be in either neutral or La Nina conditions by the latter part of 2016.” Rippey says the La Nina pattern in 1998 never reached Iowa or other Midwestern states but it had an impact on the southern tier of states, bringing very dry conditions that had a major impact on crops.
Signs point to a repeat, according to Rippey. “In 1983, we saw a very wet spring nearly coast-to-coast, but in July and August, as we quickly transitioned into La Nina, we saw a very hot, dry weather pattern develop across the Midwest,” he says. “It led to significant yield declines in crops, including corn.” It’s still too early to pinpoint exactly where the hot, dry conditions will land but he says farmers need to be aware.
By Karla James