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John Roach
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Climate Center Extends El Niño’s Stay - Hil Anderson, Roach Ag Daily Grain Plan

It looks like El Niño may be sticking around a little longer than previously expected.

The monthly update from the U.S. Climate Prediction Center issued Thursday said El Niño was 95% likely to dominate winter weather from January through March 2024; the CPC last month projected the condition would run through February.

The odds that “strong” El Niño conditions would dominate the Northern Hemisphere this fall bumped up from around 66% in last month’s forecast to 71% on Thursday.

The CPC noted August water temperatures along the Equator increased during July both on the surface and below. “Tropical atmospheric anomalies were also consistent with El Niño,” Thursday’s report said. “Over the east-central Pacific, low-level winds were anomalously westerly, while upper-level winds were anomalously easterly.”

After an unprecedented three years of La Niña conditions brought nagging drought to the Plains and California, El Niño is expected to shift the warm, dry conditions north into the upper Plains and most of the Midwest during the winter months while allowing cooler temperatures and welcome precipitation to slide into the Southwest and Texas.

While no two El Niños are exactly alike, its arrival raises questions for U.S. farmers this winter about snowfall, the arrival of frosts and freezes as well as the number of suitable days for harvest and planting in the spring.

The shifting weather patterns also bring their own impacts to other key agriculture areas around the world.

“Not only has precipitation been above average across the equatorial Pacific Ocean, but it has also been below-average over northern South America, Central America, and parts of Indonesia and India,” the CPC said in a separate blog.

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology this week said its El Niño Alert was continuing with water temperatures in the Indian Ocean creeping up and increasing the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) Index. “A positive IOD typically decreases spring rainfall for central and southeast Australia and can increase the drying influence of El Niño,” the bureau said. “The long-range forecast for Australia indicates warmer and drier than average conditions are likely across most of southern and eastern Australia from October to December.”

By coincidence, the question of managing shifting drought conditions throughout the world was the focus of the XVIII World Water Congress held this week in Beijing.

In her opening address to the conference, Maria Helena Semedo, the Deputy Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), called on agriculture to play a more aggressive role in drastically improving water conservation on the world’s farms.

“By increasing efficiency, reducing negative impacts and reusing wastewater, agriculture holds the solutions to the global water crisis, as well as the key to achieving global water and food security,” said Semedo, who added that 70% of freshwater consumption worldwide was connected to agriculture.

Semedo said the FAO’s strategy calls for comprehensive planning for water resources around the world, including input from local communities, international organizations, and research institutions as well as the private sector.  “We need collaborative frameworks…to ensure inclusive and sustainable planning, financing, governance and implementation,” she told international delegates.

Source: Climate Prediction Center, FAO, Australian Bureau of Meteorology


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