In August, weather forecasts for the coming winter suggested that the formation of an El Niño weather pattern was progressing nicely, which typically means slightly warmer and wetter weather for the United States. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) now says that the El Niño has not formed as expected, and that is not good news for farmers and ranchers in parched areas of the country.
From the NOAA:
Areas ravaged by extreme drought over the past year are unlikely to see much relief from drought conditions this winter.
These areas include the upper Midwest, including Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and northern Missouri and eastern parts of North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, and western Illinois, as well as Hawaii, the Pacific Northwest and Northern California, including Idaho, western Montana, and portions of Wyoming, Utah and most of Nevada.
In other areas of the country there is an equal chance of warmer, colder, wetter or drier winter weather. In other words, who knows? That’s why the NOAA would like to see El Niño develop and give the weather forecasters more confidence in their forecasts for the coming winter.
Warmer and drier is not good news for agricultural producers, coal miners, natural gas producers or utility companies. Consumers may get a break on heating bills, but we are likely to pay more for food unless we get more moisture.