Ag Weather Forum
Bryce Anderson DTN Ag Meteorologist and DTN Analyst

Thursday 10/30/14

Winter Weather on Hold with El Nino Type Pattern

Western Canada's crops are almost all in the bin and while it had been a good harvest yield-wise there have been quality issues for crops this fall due mostly to the early September frosts, freezes and snow. Most areas have reported quality levels well below that of both 2012 and 2013 despite yields that are above the 10-year average.

Soil moisture levels continue to be good this fall supporting the establishment of any fall seeding. The milder-than-average October has also been an aid to getting fall planting in the ground and started.

As we wrap up the 2014 crop season, we start to increase our focus on what the 2014-15 winter may hold in store for Western Canada. Last winter's bitter cold and snow were a result of pronounced upper level blocking across northern and northeastern Canada combined with a neutral ENSO pattern.

The circumstances are definitely different as we move toward the start of November this year. While an El Nino is not officially in place by government definition, we do see many of the signals of an El Nino across North and South America. Another stark difference from this time a year ago is the complete lack of blocking across Canada and the high latitudes in general. The main polar vortex has been making a home on the Asian side of the northern hemisphere so far this fall, not across north-central Canada.

These differences from last fall could have a major impact on our winter's weather if they stay in place. The current pattern as it is set up would favor a mild weather pattern with infrequent periods of precipitation across the Prairies. The million dollar question is whether and how long can this pattern maintain itself?

Model projections are indicating that we may look forward to more mild weather well into if not through November. A mostly west to east flow is forecast across Canada and the U.S. for the coming few weeks which brings lots of Pacific air inland across the North American continent. This air is quite mild versus normal at this time of year.

The pattern as it is shown now prevents the development of Arctic high pressure across northern and northwestern Canada. The cold air making machine of last winter is nowhere to be found for now. Down the road we will have to monitor for any shifts of the position of the polar vortex and whether or not some high latitude blocking returns.

While everything looks rosy now, history tells us that drastic changes can take place. There have been years when mild conditions prevailed into early winter than the bottom dropped out. For now, we can be cautiously optimistic that we will not see a repeat of last winter, at least with the nearly endless cold and snow. Even in the most mild of winters there are a few periods of cold and snow.

The key to the upcoming winter pattern will be if and when any high latitude blocking high pressure develops and where the polar vortex decides to be. If the polar vortex stays more on the Asian side and blocking is minimal then the milder El Nino aspect of the pattern is likely to be a more important player. If blocking returns along with a stronger polar vortex across North America then the El Nino pattern will be disrupted.

Doug Webster can be reached at doug.webster@dtn.com

(ES)

Posted at 11:04AM CDT 10/30/14 by Doug Webster
 

Wednesday 10/29/14

World Wheat Moisture Issues

It's worth a few minutes to mention some possible areas of concern in the world wheat production scene. We're certainly not in danger of running out of wheat--production in 2014/15 is pegged by USDA worldwide at more than 720 million metric tons with a world carryout of almost 193 mmt. Still, we have seen in the not-too-distant past that if problems show up at the right time in wheat, there can be a ripple effect in the markets across the grain trade. Here are some areas that deserve attention:

AUSTRALIA--production estimates are being revised downward during the late spring in the southern hemisphere primarily because of a drier trend in South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales. These states in September received on average only 45 percent of their normal rainfall. Plus, some record high temperatures have occurred, which also cause stress to the wheat crop ahead of harvest.

RUSSIA--it's very early in the wheat production cycle, just as it is in North America winter wheat areas. However, there is a drier trend to start out the season. A summary of September precipitation compiled by Informa Economics shows that Russia winter wheat areas had an average of just 65 percent of normal precipitation, and Russia spring wheat areas totaled less than half--just 49 percent--of normal precipitation. There's a long way to go of course, but this is of some concern. There have also been comments made in wire service reports which compare this dry September to the same month in 2009--and the summer following, in 2010, was the summer that featured the drought-enhanced fires around Moscow.

UKRAINE--major wheat areas of Ukraine join Russia in being dry over the past few weeks. Total precipitation for the month of September was 70 percent of normal. While that's not bone-dry, it's still a fair amount below the typical total.

BRAZIL--while there has been much attention given to the onset of rain in the soybean belt of Brazil, and the chance for that moisture to expand into the coffee and sugarcane areas, there is also a possible development on the other side of the rainfall ledger in the southern Brazil state of Rio Grande do Sul. This state's wheat crop has gotten mighty wet recently with more heavy rain on the way during the coming weekend. This could cause some quality issues in the Brazil wheat crop as a result.

These international areas bear keeping track of, but there are also several locations in the U.S. which may come under scrutiny as the rest of this season moves on:

MIDWEST---planting of soft red winter wheat is noticeably behind schedule in Illinois and Missouri. Illinois is 41 percent planted as of Sunday October 26 (34 percentage points below the average 75 percent) and Missouri is only 38 percent planted (17 points behind the average 55 percent). Indiana and Michigan are lagging their SRW planting rates by around ten percentage points each (Indiana 67 versus 75, Michigan 77 versus 86). The reason for this delay? Heavy rain during early and mid-October, along with some fairly cool temperatures caused extensive disruptions to planting.

SOUTHERN PLAINS (Kansas/Oklahoma/Texas)--these states have a big difference in oil moisture levels. In Kansas, the western third of the state--which has been the driest over the several years--generally has topsoil moisture supplies rated around 40 percent short to very short. It's drier in Oklahoma, where topsoil moisture supplies are rated 56 percent short to very short. And in the Texas Panhandle, topsoil is still in the range of 55-60 percent short to very short.

PACIFIC NORTHWEST---Informa Economics places total precipitation for month of October to date at seven percent above normal in Washington, but 40 percent below normal in Oregon. For the year (based on a start date of July 1), Washington precipitation is listed as four percent below normal but Oregon's is pegged at 45 percent below normal.

Bryce

Twitter @BAndersonDTN

(SK/CZ)

Posted at 3:22PM CDT 10/29/14 by Bryce Anderson
 

Friday 10/24/14

It's All About The Block

We have had almost a tale of two Octobers this month. The first half of the month had its share of storms and rain across much of the central U.S. with associated issues with harvest. That round of difficult weather was replaced this past week, however, by a huge round of warm and dry conditions. In fact, we will likely see quite a few record high temperatures in the southern Plains this weekend; values to the low 90s are even possible in southwestern Oklahoma and northern Texas.

The genesis for this switch in weather fortunes can be traced to a major development in northern Canada--the weakening and fading of blocking high pressure in the northern Canadian territories. As we have described before, the occurrence of upper-atmosphere high pressure over northern Canada has been around to some extent for most of the past 18 months. Its influence was noted last spring with the rain and cool temperatures; a stormy late spring-early summer round of conditions--and of course the very cool conditions in July. That blocking high--whether it was located over Alaska, northern Canada or Greenland--forced the polar jet stream south and kept things cool and unsettled.

But in the past two to three weeks, the weather maps have been empty over the northern latitudes. Blocking high pressure has not been around. And the result has been a more zonal air pattern, with a pronounced west-to-east tendency. That allows milder conditions to form--and at harvest time, those drier conditions are very useful for harvest progress. And so, we have two far different scenarios on the ag weather scene going into late October compared with earlier in the month.

If one is looking for a "magic bullet" for the winter forecast, the key variable will be if we have this blocking high decides to return or not--and this may well be independent of El Nino development. If blocking returns, we could see a quite cold and stormy winter--but if not, the typical El Nino tendencies are more likely to rule the scene. A big caveat here is that orecast models, as noted by NOAA, are not at this point able to discern many details about the formation of blocking high pressure, either forecasting its development, or its demise. This quirky entity will drive the fortunes the rest of this fall and into winter.

Bryce

Twitter @BAndersonDTN

(ES)

Posted at 1:56PM CDT 10/24/14 by Bryce Anderson
Comments (1)
How much warning could there be if this blocking pattern starts to set up? How is this being monitored?
Posted by JERRY KOCHANIUK at 8:18AM CDT 10/31/14
 

Thursday 10/23/14

Warmth Helps Prairie Harvest

El Nino is not officially in place according to the government, but we have seen many of the attributes of El Nino show their face across North and South America during the recent weeks. A couple such attributes are the warmth and mostly dry weather that the Canadian crop region has enjoyed since the mid-September burst of wintry weather.

The main jet stream has been traveling in from the Pacific Ocean across central latitudes of Canada allowing for relatively mild Pacific air to push over the Rockies and downslope across the Prairies. The lack of an upper level ridge across Western Canada and little or no blocking so far this fall has prevented any significant cold from developing across the cold air source regions of northwest and northern Canada.

This pattern has allowed crops to be swathed and harvested at a quick pace during recent weeks and for many areas the harvest is nearly complete. The timing of final harvest may be good, since there are some signs that a downward trend in temperature is about to take hold and some of the expected precipitation for early next week may not be all in the form of rain.

The later we go into the fall, the more difficult it becomes to hold off the advances of fall and early winter weather. The days are growing shorter at a rapid pace and it is inevitable that the main jet stream flow will start to make its seasonal southward shift, even when it appears that some part of an El Nino weather pattern may try to stick around.

In the shorter term of the next two weeks, we see more chances of some colder weather and some early season snow and rain for the Prairies. We do not yet see anything that is out of the ordinary for this time of year and there still appears to be some El Nino aspects to the pattern that may modify any significant winter weather to a more benign state.

As for the upcoming winter, there are still questions to be answered: Is El Nino going to evolve and become more of a player or will it remain weak and not much of a factor? As we know, an El Nino normally gives the Prairies mild, dry weather during the winter.

Blocking like we saw last winter probably won't happen again, at least with the nearly never ending pace it had. We can't rule out blocking to appear again, but will it stick around for a period of time or just pop up and go away like we've seen during the late summer and early fall?

Blocking is the wild card in how the winter may turn out and November's weather patterns sometimes give us a clue how the winter will go. Minimal blocking and El Nino conditions will bring a winter much different than last year, while a return of some blocked patterns at times will bring back some of last winter's ugly weather at times. Hopefully we can get a better grasp as to where we are going during the next few weeks.

Doug Webster can be reached at doug.webster@dtn.com

Posted at 10:43AM CDT 10/23/14 by Doug Webster
 

Monday 10/20/14

NOAA: Record-Warm September

NOAA's September Global Climate Summary features--as has been the case several other times this year--a new all-time historic record-keeping warm value for world temperatures.--Bryce

Twitter @BAndersonDTN

October 20, 2014

The globally averaged temperature over land and ocean surfaces for September 2014 was the highest for the month since record keeping began in 1880, according to NOAA scientists. It also marked the 38th consecutive September with a global temperature above the 20th century average. The last below-average global temperature for September occurred in 1976.

This monthly summary from NOAA's National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, North Carolina, is part of the suite of climate services NOAA provides to government, the business sector, academia and the public to support informed decision making.

Global temperature highlights: September

Land and Ocean Combined: The combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces for September 2014 was record highest for the month at 60.30 deg F (15.72 deg C) or 1.30 deg F (0.72 deg C) above the 20th century average of 59.0 deg F (15.0 deg C). The margin of error is +/- 0.22 deg F (0.12 deg C). With the exception of February, every month to date in 2014 has been among its four warmest on record, with May, June, August and September all record warm.

Land Only: The September global land temperature was the sixth highest on record for September at 1.60 deg F (0.89 deg C) above the 20th century average of 53.6 deg F (12.0 deg C), with a margin of error of +/- 0.43 deg F (0.24 deg C). Warmer-than-average temperatures were evident over most of the global land surface, except for central Russia, some areas in eastern and northern Canada, and a small region in Namibia. Record warmth was notable in much of northwestern Africa, coastal regions of southeastern South America, southwestern Australia, parts of the Middle East, and regions of southeastern Asia.

Some national land temperature highlights include: Ocean Only: The September global sea surface temperature was 1.19 deg F (0.66 deg C) above the 20th century average of 61.1 deg F (16.2 deg C), the highest on record for September. This also marked the highest departure from average for any month since records began in 1880, breaking the previous record of 1.17 deg F (0.65 deg C) set just one month earlier in August. This is the third time in 2014 this all-time record has been broken. The margin of error is +/- 0.07 deg F (0.04 deg C). Record warmth was observed in parts of every major ocean basin, particularly notable in the northeastern and equatorial Pacific Ocean.

The September maximum temperature for Australia was 3.65 deg F (2.03 deg C) higher than the 1961-1990 average, the fifth highest for the month since national records began in 1910. The state of Western Australia was record warm at 4.95 deg F (2.75 deg C) above average, breaking the previous record set in 1980 by 0.79 deg F (0.44 deg C). Tasmania reported its second highest September maximum temperature on record and Victoria its seventh highest.

Many countries in Europe were warmer than average during September, including Norway, Germany, Finland, Austria, and France. Denmark reported its seventh warmest September since national records began in 1874, while the United Kingdom had its fourth warmest in the country’s 115-year period of record.

Although El Nino conditions were not officially present across the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean during September 2014, NOAA's Climate Prediction Center favors El Nino to begin in the next one to two months and last into the Northern Hemisphere spring 2015.

Snow and ice highlights: September

Arctic: On September 17, Arctic sea ice reached its annual minimum extent at 1.94 million square miles, the sixth smallest in the 1979-2014 satellite record, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center. This was 463,000 square miles below the 1981-2010 average, but 622,000 square miles larger than the record small minimum that occurred in 2012. Between the annual maximum extent that occurred in March and the minimum extent, the Arctic lost 3.82 million square miles of ice during the 2014 melt season, the ninth most on record but the least since 2006.

The average September Arctic sea ice extent was 2.04 million square miles, 480,000 square miles (19.02 percent) below the 1981–2010 average and the sixth smallest on record. Much-below-average sea ice was observed in the Laptev, Kara and Chukchi Seas; above-average sea ice was observed in the Barents Sea. Near-average ice extent in the Canadian Archipelago caused the Northeast Passage to remain closed, unlike recent Septembers when the sea route was navigable by ship.

Antarctic: On September 22, Antarctic sea ice reached its annual maximum extent at 7.76 million square miles, 595,000 square miles above the 1981-2010 average and the largest maximum Antarctic sea ice extent in the 1979-2014 satellite record. This beat the previous record set just last year by approximately 216,000 square miles and marked the third consecutive year that a new record maximum sea ice extent has been set in the Antarctic.

The average September Antarctic sea ice extent was 7.73 million square miles, 480,000 square miles (6.60 percent) above the 1981-2010 average. This was the largest September average Antarctic sea ice extent on record and the largest average Antarctic sea ice extent for any month. This bested the previous September Antarctic sea ice extent record set last year by approximately 80,000 square miles. Much-above-average sea ice was observed in the western Pacific and Indian Ocean areas.

Precipitation highlights: September

As is typical, extreme wet and extreme dry conditions were scattered across the globe. Select notable events include the following:

High pressure systems not only brought warmth to the United Kingdom during September, but also record dryness. The country had its driest September since records began in 1910, with just 20 percent of average rainfall for the month. Besides breaking the record itself, this rainfall deficit is particularly notable because the preceding eight-month period of January-August was the wettest such period on record for the country.

The Southwest Indian Monsoon began its annual withdrawal in September, but the withdrawal began later than normal. From June 1 to September 30, India as a whole received 88 percent of average seasonal rainfall for the period. All regions were below average, with Northwest India experiencing the greatest precipitation deficit, receiving 79 percent of average rainfall. Most of the below-average rainfall for India can be attributed to below-average precipitation during June and early July. In early September, the northern state of Jammu and Kashmir, along with the neighboring region in Pakistan, experienced intense flooding from downpours that brought over a foot of rain. More than 400 residents perished due to the disaster.

Global temperature highlights: Year-to-date

Land and Ocean Combined: January-September tied with 1998 as the warmest such period on record, with a combined global land and ocean average surface temperature 1.22 deg F (0.68 deg C) above the 20th century average of 57.5 deg F (14.1 deg C). If 2014 maintains this temperature departure from average for the remainder of the year, it will be the warmest year on record. The margin of error is +/- 0.20 deg F (0.11 deg C).

Land Only: The January-September worldwide land surface temperature was 1.75 deg F (0.97 deg C) above the 20th century average, the sixth warmest such period on record. The margin of error is +/- 0.41 deg F (0.23 deg C).

Ocean Only: The global ocean surface temperature for the year to date was 1.03 deg F (0.57 deg C) above average, the warmest such period on record. The margin of error is +/-0.09 deg F (0.05 deg C).

Full report and graphics are at this link: http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/…

(ES/AG/CZ)

Posted at 11:08AM CDT 10/20/14 by Bryce Anderson
Comments (6)
Aren't there problems with urban encroachment on many global temperature taking thermometers? I know the one for Fresno was once advertised to have been moved south about 10 or 20 miles; but the heat island of Fresno normally blows in that direction. Isn't global atmospheric temperature better measured by satellites (which do not show such dire increases as described in the article)?
Posted by H. Clay Daulton at 8:07PM CDT 10/21/14
This topic has been discussed before in this space. Thermometer placement has been verified as fairly representing what is going on in the atmosphere.
Posted by Bryce Anderson at 5:59AM CDT 10/22/14
Clay, I too asked Bryce about satellites. He defiantly referred back to the accuracy of urban weather stations rather than answer whether or not the satellites are accurate. NOAA has closed some 600 weather stations reportedly for the reason you asserted. However, NOAA supposedly has models that correct for rooftop heating and parking lot heating (where many weather stations are found).
Posted by Curt Zingula at 6:59AM CDT 10/22/14
Regarding temperature monitoring, the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) has a detailed review of temperature questions on its web site in the "Climate Monitoring" section at the NCDC home page. About the issue of whether temperature records show an Urban Heat Island bias, the NCDC FAQ article directly addresses that question. Here is the answer: "We identified which GHCN (Global Historical Climate Network) stations were rural and which were urban. Then we created global temperature time series from the rural only stations and compared that to our full dataset. The result was that the two showed almost identical time series (actually the rural showed a little bit more warming) so there apparently was no lingering urban heat island bias in the adjusted GHCN dataset." More information is at this link: http://tinyurl.com/mkpkf8c
Posted by Bryce Anderson at 9:33AM CDT 10/22/14
What is to be made of the large Antarctica sea ice? It appears to me that arctic ice is moving from one pole to the other, which I believe I read once could be due to nothing more than the earth's axis varying slightly which occurs from time to time. I am definitely NOT a meteorologist, or climatologist, but do try and read about weather. Just curious on thoughts.
Posted by Unknown at 11:00AM CDT 10/22/14
Has anyone checked to see if the companies producing these thermometers has ties with Al Gore?
Posted by Jay Mcginnis at 7:29AM CDT 10/31/14
 

Friday 10/17/14

Details On Brazil Dryness Issues

Mato Grosso, Brazil farmer and farm organization leader Ricardo Manoel Arioli Silva and I have been exchanging e-mails about the recent dryness in central Brazil and its effect on farming there. Here is an e-mail that Ricardo sent Friday, October 17 that spells out in close detail the kinds of problems that this dry pattern is already bringing on in Mato Grosso.

Bryce

Twitter @BAndersonDTN

We had some rain in just some areas in our region 2 weeks ago. Some farmers decided to plant, and now the planted area is suffering with no rain at all, since then.

It's not a very big area, maybe just 5 percent, but we will have to wait until the rain comes to check if replanting will be needed.

By this time of October, at least 40 percent of the area should be already planted.

That's a very important delay, compared to other years, with some reflex (impact):

- in the yield: we know that November soybeans normally yield less than October soybeans, due to the rust control. So, we will have less than 10 days left to plant in October, since forecast for rain is next October 21st (Tuesday).

- second crop: Plans for the corn and cotton second crop will have to be reviewed. The best time for planting the second crop is January and February, and that means October soybean planting. We will probably have to reduce the area for corn and cotton, or take a very big risk depending on some rain during the dry season.

- in the harvest season: Every farmer will try to plant as soon as possible, before November, and the concentration of the harvest season can lead to problems as lack of dryers, combines and trucks. That could mean bad soy quality, as last season.

Even the soybeans we planted in our center pivots--having irrigation every night--are suffering during the day with the high temperature (around 105 F).

(CZ)

Posted at 2:40PM CDT 10/17/14 by Bryce Anderson
 

Thursday 10/16/14

Western Canada Sees Warm, Dry Period Developing

Another period of very warm and mostly dry weather appears to be setting up for the Canadian Prairies crop belt at this time. The west will turn warmer today while eastern areas may trend cooler during the next day or two before warmer weather returns. The medium range forecast shows high confidence of mostly dry and warm weather for the weekend and early next week. This is nearly ideal for the harvest of crops in the region, so long as the ground is firm enough to support the equipment.

The longer range outlook is a little more uncertain today. The U.S. computer model shows a trough deepening as it moves east across the region during the eight-to-10-day time frame. This would suggest a period of wet weather followed by at least a brief cold snap. The eastern areas will be the coldest and wettest. The European computer model covering the same timeframe is not as aggressive with this trough and therefore does not show any significant rainfall or cold weather at the end of the 10-day period.

I am leaning more towards the European model as it concerns this timeframe. The lack of high latitude blocking supports a continued lower amplitude flow for Western Canada. This suggests warmer weather and less rain chances which is what the European model is forecasting. This should allow for continued favorable harvest weather through the 10-day period.

We continue to watch the high latitudes of Canada and the Arctic Circle for any signs that blocking may return. This will be of increasing concern as we move through fall and into winter. High latitude ridges tend to send the polar vortex southward and lead to cold weather for much of southern Canada. This ridge has been absent from the forecast models for a while and hopefully it will stay away, at least until the harvest is complete.

Joel Burgio can be reached at joel.burgio@dtn.com

Posted at 12:16PM CDT 10/16/14 by Joel Burgio
 

Wednesday 10/15/14

Have And Have-Not Brazil Rain

My colleague Joel Burgio diligently tracks rainfall totals for major crop areas in the U.S., Canada and South America. His latest tally on rain in Brazil has a dramatic difference from north to south. Rio Grande do Sul in the far south has well above normal rainfall--in fact, too much in some parts of that state. But in contrast, Mato Grosso has had some huge departures from normal on the dry side.

A look at Brazil percent of normal rain since October 1 shows very little activity in central and southeastern crop areas, whereas the far south has had far above normal amounts. (Graphic illustration by Nick Scalise)

Here's the tally from August 1 through October 14. Amounts displayed in inches:

GOIAS

Goiania 1.83 Normal 4.08 55 pct below normal

Catalao 1.76 Normal 4.16 58 pct below normal

Average 1.80 Normal 4.12 56 pct below normal

MATO GROSSO

Diamantino 3.74 Normal 5.18 28 pct below normal

Cuiaba 1.89 Normal 5.18 64 pct below normal

Average 2.82 Normal 5.18 46 pct below normal

MATO GROSSO DO SUL

Campo Grande 2.75 Normal 5.58 51 pct below normal

Ivinheima 3.43 Normal 5.58 39 pct below normal

Average 3.09 Normal 5.58 45 pct below normal

That's the northern portion of the Brazil row crop areas. The south is much different.

PARANA

Londrina 9.01 Normal 9.21 2 pct below normal

C. Moura 7.92 Normal 9.55 17 pct below normal

Foz Do Iguacu 12.34 Normal 9.88 25 pct above normal

Irati 14.53 Normal 12.69 15 pct above normal

Curitiba 7.67 Normal 10.37 26 pct below normal

Average 10.62 Normal 10.62 Even

SANTA CATARINA

Irai 22.76 Normal 10.77 111 pct above normal

Campos N 17.36 Normal 9.95 74 pct above normal

Average 20.06 Normal 10.36 93 pct above normal

RIO GRANDE DO SUL

Sao Luis G 18.52 Normal 12.08 53 pct above normal

Passo Fundo 17.67 Normal 11.00 61 pct above normal

Bom Jesus 17.41 Normal 11.57 50 pct above normal

Santa Maria 16.20 Normal 11.64 39 pct above normal

Encruzilha 12.91 Normal 11.70 10 pct above normal

Average 16.54 Normal 11.60 43 pct above normal

Bryce

Twitter @BAndersonDTN

(SK/CZ)

Posted at 10:47AM CDT 10/15/14 by Bryce Anderson
 

Monday 10/13/14

Why El Nino Is Likely Here

If you go by official pronouncements, El Nino in the Pacific Ocean has not developed. In the U.S., the NOAA Climate Prediction Center sums its assessment up this way:

Latest Drought Monitor assessments for Kansas show portions of the north and northeast now drought-free, and only the far southwest counties in "Extreme Drought" thanks to generous rain -- one trademark of El Nino. (Graphic courtesy of U.S. Drought Monitor)

"ENSO-neutral conditions continue. Positive equatorial sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies continue across most of the Pacific Ocean. (above-normal temperatures) El Nino is favored to begin in the next 1-2 months and last into the Northern Hemisphere spring 2015."

That's the CPC comment. Here's what the Australia Bureau of Meteorology said the week of October 7:

"Tropical Pacific Ocean ENSO indicators remain within the neutral range, having failed to maintain sustained values typical of El Nino. However, given the persistent warmth in the tropical Pacific Ocean, models continue to suggest an El Nino remains possible during the last quarter of 2014."

However, despite those official comments, there is enough going on in the weather scene in the U.S., South America, and Australia, to strongly suggest that El Nino is already in place and having an influence on weather conditions. Here's the list:

1) As the accompanying graphic shows, the Southern Plains has had consistent rainfall during late summer and early autumn. Parts of Kansas are drought-free. There is no occurrence of drought level 4 -- Exceptional Drought -- anywhere in the state. And, drought level 3 -- Extreme Drought -- is at this point confined to the far southwestern corner of the state. Farther south, we have seen improvement in Oklahoma and Texas as well. In the western half of Texas, short-term drought is almost entirely gone.

2) Increased Midwest rain. Research on El Nino by Craig Cogil, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, indicates that El Nino fall seasons have near to above normal precipitation in Iowa for weak to moderate events; and that moderate to strong El Nino seasons have above-normal precipitation statewide.

3) Tropical weather system development patterns. This season has featured a distinct lack of hurricane or tropical storm formation in the Atlantic Basin, while the eastern Pacific has been very active. Here in the second week of October, the Atlantic Basin has a system called Gonzalo taking shape -- only the seventh named storm system of the season. Compare that to the eastern Pacific, where the letter S (Simon) was used around October 1. And back in September, there were heavy rains in the southwestern U.S. and the southern Plains with a string of Pacific storms contributing -- Norbert; Odile; and Polo.

3) South America rainfall split. El Nino has a high correlation to heavy rain in southern Brazil and Argentina. We are seeing those relationships play out, with well above normal rainfall in the southern Brazil provinces of Parana and Rio Grande do Sul, as well as the central Argentina crop belt. Mato Grosso, in central Brazil, has a looser relationship with El Nino; however, conditions have been very dry there with soybean planting falling behind average because of dry soils.

4) Dryness in Australia. This feature is the other side of the heavier than normal rainfall relationship in South America; when El Nino is in effect, Australia turns drier. And, during the first part of October, four of the top five wheat-producing areas of Australia--Western Australia, Southern Australia, New South Wales, and Victoria--have taken in less than half their normal precipitation. This is an important time in the Australia wheat cycle--it's the southern hemisphere version of April--and wheat needs the moisture for production.

For all these reasons, in our opinion at DTN Ag Weather, El Nino is here and flexing its influence, despite the official rulings.

Bryce

Twitter @BAndersonDTN

(ES)

Posted at 3:45PM CDT 10/13/14 by Bryce Anderson
Comments (4)
Dear Bryce, I know that there is a Mid-West/Central Plains centric focus on weather patterns at DTN but could you please comment on other heavy agriculture producing regions such as the PNW coastal and interior regions that are much more crop diversified than other regions of the country. Our weather concerns have been subsumed by this bias since I have been a DTN subscriber for the last 28 years.
Posted by T JAMES DAVIS at 1:34PM CDT 10/14/14
Thanks for your question and comment. Regarding El Nino for the Pacific Northwest, this is not a good scenario for the drought conditions that have been in effect. El Nino patterns typically bring above-normal temperatures and much below-normal precipitation to the northwestern U.S. That pattern appears to be in place going through the rest of this fall season. Also--in our weather coverage, we do tend to focus on what the situations are that are affecting the markets and that tends to skew toward the central part of the country. But you make a good point, that as we cover those areas and such newer ones as South America and Ukraine, that we need to remember our readers in other regions as well. I promise to take your comments to heart and pledge to do better.
Posted by Bryce Anderson at 2:32PM CDT 10/14/14
Dear Bryce,I agree with Mr Davis. As a producer in the Southeast we often times get left trying to figure out where we fit in with weather patterns and other market forecast for our area. So thank you for your pledge to do better!
Posted by cottonman at 9:53PM CDT 10/14/14
Bryce, thanks for the general overview of "market making" weather. I can understand the challenges you must face when deciding which areas to cover with your brief analysis. Alberta, Canada
Posted by Larry P at 10:31AM CDT 10/15/14
 

Friday 10/10/14

USDA September Weather Review

Following is USDA's report on crop weather for the month of September--as contained in the October production report Friday October 11. It has both sides--from the very-high crop ratings in the Corn Belt to drought impact on pastures in the Far West.

Bryce

Twitter @BAndersonDTN

September Weather Summary

September featured highly variable precipitation and rapidly fluctuating temperatures. In the Corn Belt alone, a cold snap led to widespread frost across the upper Midwest from September 11-13, but largely spared late-developing corn and soybeans. Following the cool spell, an extended period of late-season Midwestern warmth promoted summer crop maturation. Most of the upper Midwest experienced beneficial dryness, but heavy rain in the southern Corn Belt slowed early-season harvest efforts. Regardless of the weather extremes, Midwestern crop conditions remained near historic highs, with nearly three-quarters of the corn (74 percent) and soybeans (73 percent) rated in good to excellent condition by October 5. Those numbers represented the highest United States corn and soybean ratings in October since 2004 and 1994, respectively.

Meanwhile, a band of September dryness stretched from the southeastern Plains and Mid-South into the Northeast. The mostly dry weather favored summer crop maturation and harvesting, but increased stress on pastures and reduced topsoil moisture for the establishment of newly planted winter grains. Across the Deep South, however, heavy rain hampered fieldwork in several areas, including southern Texas and the southern Atlantic coastal plain.

Heavy September rain also soaked portions of the southern High Plains and the Southwest, in part due to moisture associated with the remnants of eastern Pacific Hurricanes Norbert and Odile. Substantial precipitation fell in other parts of the West, including the Great Basin and Intermountain region, providing some drought relief. However, warm, mostly dry weather persisted in central and southern California and portions of the interior Northwest. By October 5, at least one-third of the rangeland and pastures were rated in very poor to poor condition in California (70 percent), Oregon (48 percent), Nevada (40 percent), and Washington (34 percent).

(ES/AG/CZ)

Posted at 2:44PM CDT 10/10/14 by Bryce Anderson
 

Thursday 10/09/14

Canadian Harvest Races Ahead

Western Canada's crop regions certainly experienced some major bumps in the road back in September when snow and cold brought some crop damage and quality concerns as well as a stoppage in the developing harvest. That all seems to be ancient history now with an excellent weather pattern in place for the rapidly advancing harvest. Only Manitoba has seen weather conditions not as agreeable for harvest.

During the past several weeks we have seen the weather regime across North America do a couple switches from the all too familiar blocking patterns to periods when an El Nino looking pattern seems to be in place. During the blocking episodes the colder, wetter weather has taken hold such as earlier in September and for a brief period to start October.

At other times when the blocking disappears it seems that signs of an El Nino like weather pattern take hold. This was the case later in September and again during the past week or so. The El Nino look to our weather is highly favorable for harvest with the main jet stream flow moving west to east allowing Pacific air to flood southern and western Canada and keeping rainfall at a minimum and temperatures mild.

Current model projections keep this El Nino look to our weather in place for the next 10 days and maybe even longer. Conditions through the tropical Pacific remain in a mode that favors a developing weak to moderate El Nino and we have already seen signs that El Nino could already be in place.

Lack of tropical activity through the tropical Atlantic and the above average eastern Pacific tropical activity are indicators of an El Nino. There have been 3 pushes of tropical moisture out of the eastern Pacific into the U.S. Southwest so far this season implying El Nino and some of the warm, dry weather western Canada has experienced early this fall are El Nino-like.

It seems that when blocking goes away across North America that El Nino conditions take hold and this is what we may see during the remainder of the fall. As long as high latitude blocking remains at bay then mild, mostly dry El Nino conditions may be the best forecast for western Canada. We can't rule out that some blocking may come along from time to time to disrupt the El Nino pattern and bring a couple of periods when temperatures take a nose dive and a quick deposit of snow occurs.

For the next week or two it appears that little or no blocking will occur and this should allow farmers to race ahead with harvest and hopefully finish up before winter sets in. As of the start of October both Alberta and Saskatchewan were close to being on pace with normal harvest progress and with the good weather since one would assume excellent progress has been made during the first week of October. Manitoba as seen some colder, wetter conditions during the recent week and harvest progress has been a little slower there but much improved weather prospects are seen during the next week bringing help for farmers.

Doug Webster can be reached at doug.webster@dtn.com

(CZ)

Posted at 10:42AM CDT 10/09/14 by Doug Webster
 

Wednesday 10/08/14

North-South Split On Corn Harvest

The following paragraph from this week's Iowa state ag department crop progress report is worth noting:

"With almost all of Iowa’s corn acreage in or beyond the dent stage, corn mature reached 79 percent, 6 days behind the five-year average. Moisture content of all corn in the field, at 27 percent, continued to delay harvest. Only 5 percent of corn has been harvested so far, 3 weeks behind the normal pace. Seventy-six percent of the corn crop was reported in good to excellent condition. With almost all of the soybean acreage turning color, 85 percent of the crop was dropping leaves or beyond, just behind average. Soybean harvest was 9 percent complete, the lowest percentage harvested by this date in over 30 years. Seventy-four percent of the soybean crop was in good to excellent condition."

So, that's the history of this weather pattern. It's been a slow start to harvest. The only feature that does not bring an exact comparison to the extremely-delayed harvest of five years ago in 2009 is that there is no snow in the Corn Belt like we saw back then.

But, now we come to the forecast pattern for the next week to ten days, and here is where the trade may do some corn production arithmetic. The next week features some heavy rains over the south-central part of the U.S., with Interstate 70 as the approximate division line between heavy rain and lighter rain. And, using the USDA World Ag Outlook Board breakdown of major corn production states, there is a majority of U.S. corn production which is on the drier side of the forecast. Here's the breakdown in production percentage that is north of the heavier forecast rainfall:

Iowa 18 percent Illinois 12 percent (estimating that 70 percent of the 17 percent Illinois share of US corn output is north of I-70) Nebraska 12 Minnesota 10 Indiana 5 (estimate that 70 percent of Indiana's 4 percent share of US production is north of I-70) Ohio 4 percent South Dakota 4 percent Wisconsin 4 percent North Dakota 2 percent Michigan 2 percent

Adding those percentages together, the total is 73 percent of the total U.S. corn crop which is north of the heaviest rainfall forecast over the next five days. And a drier 6-10 day time frame adds to that more-favorable harvest prospect.

Bryce

Twitter @BAndersonDTN

Posted at 2:47PM CDT 10/08/14 by Bryce Anderson
 

Thursday 10/02/14

Weather Improves Harvest Across Canada

Earlier in September when snow and cold were making life miserable for humans and crops across parts of the Prairies one had to wonder if this years crop yield would end up poorly. Weather patterns made a big turn around during the second half of September allowing for rapid recovery of crop prospects throughout the region.

An early take on September's temperature and precipitation averages and totals across the region shows that temperatures ended up near to a little above normal for most areas. Readings near normal to about 1 degree Celsius above normal occurred for most regions but the route getting there was anything but smooth. A couple of major peaks and valleys along the way ended up canceling each other out.

Rainfall and melted snowfall amounts were not too far from what we might expect last month with most totals varying in the range of 80 to 120 percent of normal. This keeps soils moist enough to get fall plantings in the ground and emerged before winter sets in.

Crop harvest continues to advance at a rapid pace for most areas helped along by a generally dry weather pattern. There have been a day or two along the way with rainy conditions that bring brief halts to harvest but all in all a good pace to harvest activities should be able to continue well into if not through next week.

Harvest is more advanced across the west where beneficial weather has been in greater supply. Periodic showers and leftover wet soils from the wet summer across eastern Saskatchewan and Manitoba have been a little more problematic to harvest of late but still some decent progress is being made.

For the most part good harvest weather should cover most of the Canadian Prairies during the coming week but the east may still be the region that sees a little greater threat for some slowdowns or stoppages from showers at times. Temperatures are expected to be on the chilly side of normal for a few days before western areas turn warmer again by early to mid next week.

Manitoba may continue to feel some cool weather as a result of a blocking upper air pattern developing across Canada during the next week. It appears this blocking may become quite strong for a time but for now is in a position to allow for harvest to continue into the middle of the month. Hopefully we'll see enough of a period of good weather to allow for harvest to wrap up in most areas during the next couple of weeks.

As we move a little deeper into the month we might start to see increasing cold and a better threat for some upslope snow across the west if the blocking pattern continues. If the blocking starts to weaken then a more favorable outlook for remaining harvest would be in the cards.

Doug Webster can be reached at doug.webster@dtn.com

(CZ)

Posted at 10:30AM CDT 10/02/14 by Doug Webster
 

Wednesday 10/01/14

Climate Change Scorecard

A review of 15 extreme weather events around the world during 2013 done by the American Meteorological Society finds that climate change was an identified influencing factor in half of them--not an identified influencing factor in five--at least partially in one--and possible but uncertain in one. The events were summarized by Brian Kahn of the research organization Climate Central and are listed below:

New Zealand Drought January 2013: Yes. The first three months of 2013 saw the worst drought in more than 40 years for New Zealand's North Island. Agricultural losses totaled more than $1.3 billion, with losses expected to continue for the next two years. Climate change likely increased the risk of dry weather in the region.

California Drought January through December 2013: Yes and No. California’s driest 12-month period on record occurred during 2013-14. Global warming likely increased the probability of certain large-scale atmospheric conditions such as the "ridiculously resilient ridge" that blocked storms from crossing the state and fueled the drought but some uncertainties remain.

Southern Europe's Wet Winter January through March 2013: No. Winter 2013 was the second wettest since 1948 in southern Europe. However, natural climate patterns and shifts were the main drivers behind the copious snow and rain.

Pyrenees Heavy Snow January-June 2013: No. Snow in the Pyrenees Mountains, which separate Spain and France, has been significantly declining since 1950. However, 2013 bucked the trend with up to 13 feet of snow on the ground above 6,800 feet during late April and early May. Despite the freakishly high snowfall totals, climate change didn't appear to have an influence.

Australia Extreme Heat May-August 2013: Yes. The period from May-August was particularly hot for Australia, pushing the country to its warmest year on record. The annual average temperature was about 2.2 degrees Fahrenheit above normal, besting the previous record set in 2005 by 0.3 degree F. Climate change likely increased the odds of extreme heat.

Seasons of Extreme Precipitation in the U.S. May-December 2013: Yes. 2013 was a year of precipitation extremes in the U.S. with a wet spring for the Upper Midwest and Southern Plains, a wet summer for the Northeast, a wet fall for the Northern Plains and a dry year for California. A mix of natural variability and climate change (with a pinch of inherent randomness) helped drive these large-scale precipitation patterns.

Central Europe Heavy Rain late May-early June 2013: No. Storms brought intense rains to central Europe at the end of May, with some locations getting as much rain in a day as they receive on average in a single month. Other factors such as late spring snowmelt helped boost flood levels, but climate change is unlikely to have played a role.

Western Europe's Hot, Dry Summer June-August 2013: Yes. The average temperature for western Europe was 2.4 degrees Fahrenheit above normal during the summer of 2013. That's slightly cooler than the scorching summers of 2003 and 2010, but researchers found climate change was still a driver of high temperatures.

South Korea Heat Wave June-August 2013: Yes. South Korea had a hot summer, with overnight lows running 4 degrees Fahrenheit above normal and daytime highs averaging 3.4 degrees F above normal. Researchers found that "extreme hot summers like the 2013 event have become 10 times more probable" due to climate change.

Northern India Extreme Rain June 2013: Yes. More than 100,000 people were impacted by heavy rains and subsequent flooding in northern India during the second half of June. Evidence points to climate change having a hand.

Japan Heat Wave July-August 2013: Yes. During the summer, 143 weather stations across Japan set records for daily high temperatures. The average temperature for July and August was also 2.2 degrees F above normal. Climate change played a "significant role" in upping the odds of the hot weather.

Eastern China Hot and Dry Summer July-August 2013: Yes. July-August 2013 was the warmest such period in central eastern China since 1951. The average temperature for the period was as much as 5.4 degrees F higher than normal and daily temperatures topped 110 degrees F in some locations. Climate change helped ratchet up the odds of this extreme heat.

Colorado Heavy Rains September 2013: No. Heavy rains inundated northeast Colorado in mid-September. Up to 17 inches of rain fell over 5 days in the region, causing an estimated 2-Billion dollars in damage. While climate change is increasing the odds of extreme precipitation events in the U.S., one computer model suggests that climate change actually made the "biblical" rains that drenched Colorado less likely.

South Dakota's Early Season Blizzard October 2013: Uncertain. Up to 58 inches of snow fell on South Dakota in early October, smashing records for the month at a number of locations across the state. The storm also killed tens of thousands of cattle. However, scientists aren't certain that climate change had an impact on the storm.

Cyclone Christian October 2013: No. In late October, a storm known as Cyclone Christian in Germany or the St. Jude Storm in the U.K. slammed into Europe. It brought winds in excess of 120 mph, but climate change didn't play a role in increasing the storm's intensity.

The full timeline of these events is at this link: http://tinyurl.com/…

Bryce

Twitter @BAndersonDTN

(SK/CZ)

Posted at 3:13PM CDT 10/01/14 by Bryce Anderson
Comments (1)
Bryce, I just read an article saying that ocean temperatures off Australia and New Zealand were much higher then originally thought, would that produce much more rain for the US?
Posted by Jay Mcginnis at 7:36AM CDT 10/07/14
 

Monday 09/29/14

One Of Those Years

One of the key points I tried to bring out during DTN market and weather presentations at the summer farm shows this year--specifically, Farm Fest in Minnesota; the Farm Progress Show in Iowa; and Husker Harvest Days in Nebraska--was the lack of widespread calamitous weather in the major northern hemisphere crop regions in 2014. Were there some problems? Yes, of course there were. Severe and violent storms tore through portions of the central U.S., specifically the western Corn Belt, from May until early July. Heavy rain lashed the northern Plains and the upper MIdwest. The U.S. southern Plains had very dry conditions through mid to late spring, followed by moderate to locally-heavy rain.There was some heavy, flooding rain in Europe. Portions of north-central China had very dry conditions (and continue to do so). India's monsoon went through a fitful early portion of its annual cycle. And, in the Canadian Prairies, cool temperatures and heavy rains caused a loss of acreage because of ponding out and flooding.

However, temperatures remained mostly very cool conditions during July, and then stayed mild enough to limit frost threats during September--a phasing which not only reduced sress on crops during their reproductive phases, but also allowed for an extended stretch of grain fill during September. In contrast to years such as 2010 when severe heat and drought occurred in Russia; 2011, featuring drought in the southern Plains; and 2012, when the Midwest drought slashed corn production, grain-producing area weather this year was by and large favorable.

Are there problem areas? Yes--with California's historic drought front and center. But in the grain business, this has been a year when, as the chief executive of Deere said in a Barron's article this week--this year's extreme weather event can be called "It's great weather everywhere around the world." We're seeing the results in production expectation, and of course in how markets have behaved with a sustained move downward.

Bryce

Twitter--@BAndersonDTN

(ES/AG/CZ)

Posted at 2:55PM CDT 09/29/14 by Bryce Anderson
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