Say adios to La Niña

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After an April and early May that brought record rainfall to much of the Midwest, climatologists agree the weather pattern is improving somewhat.

La Niña is the weather pattern keeping much of the Midwest wet, and keeping much of the Southern Great Plains hot, dry and dusty. “We’ve come through a strong La Niña event that is now weakening fairly rapidly, says Jeff Andresen, state of Michigan climatologist and Michigan State University associate professor of geography.

A La Niña weather event occurs when the surface temperature of vast areas of the Pacific Ocean are cooler by at least 1 degree Fahrenheit, according to Ken Scheeringa, associate state climatologist for the Indiana State Climate Office, based at Purdue University.

The impacts of this event have been felt far and wide.

The La Niña that began last summer is expected to disappear by the end of June with "neutral" conditions in the Pacific expected this summer, meaning that water  temperatures are not anticipated to be warmer or cooler than normal. However, given unusually wet soils from the heavy precipitation of the past few months, you can still expect cooler and wetter conditions than normal to persist across the upper Midwest and Great Lakes, as well as into parts of the Northeast and areas of the Pacific Northwest in the coming weeks, says Andresen. Drier-and-warmer-than-normal conditions are also expected to remain in place for drought-impacted areas of the Southern Plains, too.

Overall, he says that the long-term forecast calls for warmer than normal temperatures for the southern third of the country, and cooler than normal temperatures for the northern third of the country.

“Due to the Jet Stream pattern, we could see a very, very active weather pattern emerge again across the central and sourthern areas of the country during the next few weels,” says Andresen, “so don’t be surprised by more challenges and delays.”

While most of the attention has centered on delays to field activities related to corn and soybeans, alfalfa has been impacted as well. Reports from Minnesota and Wisconsin indicate crop progress lags behind last year. Fortunately, not a lot of winterkill has been observed, but field compaction from the wet fall last year and soggy fields this spring mean you’ll need to practice patience with this crop, too.



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