Areas of Iowa that have suffered through months of drought may see some relief soon with the development of an El Nino weather pattern, as the Climate Prediction Center has issued an El Nino Watch for this summer.

Doug Kluck, the Central Region climate service director for the National Weather Service, says the El Nino would come after three years of a La Nina. “If this does turn into an El Nino, and it turns into a moderate and/or strong one, it is the opposite of what we expect from a La Nina,” Kluck says. “In the wintertime, El Nino brings warmer-than-normal temperatures in the northern states, cooler-than-normal temperatures in the southern states, and wetter conditions along the south and drier conditions along the north.”

An El Nino occurs when Pacific Ocean surface temperatures rise above normal, and for Iowa, it typically means moderate temperatures and better chances for precipitation. Kluck says weather patterns change under an El Nino. “It tends to have a split jetstream, meaning, that the southern part of the U.S. gets more activity. The northern part, is sort of the northern jet, if you will, splits over the top, it stays in Canada. We don’t get as many arctic air pushes, it doesn’t get as cold and we have a relatively warm winter.”

Kluck says the El Nino is expected to develop rapidly this summer. Parts of Woodburn and Monona counties are in the worst categories of drought: exceptional, extreme and severe, while moderate to severe drought extends across wide sections of western Iowa. Large areas of central and eastern Iowa are considered extremely dry by the U.S. Drought Monitor.

(By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton)

Radio Iowa