The term “Multivariate ENSO Index” may not mean much to you by name, but the data in the index may hold the best news you have heard for many days, weeks, and months. It says that El Niño is waiting in the wings for his stage cue so he can burst into the spotlight with a hero’s welcome. Quickly, cue El Niño.

Within the bowels of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) office in Colorado, Dr. Klaus Wolter is analyzing six weather and atmospheric pressure numbers that come from the Equatorial Waters in the Pacific Ocean. The six are the sea-level air pressure, components of the surface winds, sea surface temperatures, surface air temperatures and the cloudiness. When those six variables are combined by Dr. Wolter they indicate that El Nino will soon be here and not a moment too soon. 

The 2010-2012 La Niña departed earlier this spring. Wolter reports it was the second strongest since a similar weather pattern in the mid-1950s, “The 2010-11 portion of this La Niña event had been classified as strong (top 6 rankings since 1950) from July-August 2010 through March-April 2011, tied with 1975-76 for 2nd place in terms of strong duration, and only behind 1955-56 (15 months). The 2011-12 portion of this event only reached moderate levels (top 12 ranking) one time five months ago.”

Wolter says he is not the only one at NOAA who believes El Niño is on the way, and said the Climate Prediction Center also has that opinion, “In its latest update (July 5th, 2012), an El Niño watch is declared with the potential for it to become reality in the next few months.” He says that is a bit more conservative than his viewpoint.

He says La Niña is clearly over, after going through a second-winter stage similar to 2008-09, and consistent with expectations formulated right here in late 2010: big La Niña events have a strong tendency to re-emerge after ‘taking time off’ during northern hemispheric summer. As stated five months ago, the “distinct possibility that we could see a switch to El Niño during the next few months” appears to have come true.” He adds that the current switch to El Niño over the past two years is similar to the one three years ago. 

If you did not like La Niña because of its heat and dryness, El Niño will demonstrate a major shift in the weather. NOAA identifies the difference as, “the impacts of El Niño and La Niña at these latitudes are most clearly seen in wintertime. In the continental U.S., during El Niño years, temperatures in the winter are warmer than normal in the North Central States, and cooler than normal in the Southeast and the Southwest. During a La Niña year, winter temperatures are warmer than normal in the Southeast and cooler than normal in the Northwest.”

But prospects for precipitation are the key to crop production success in the Cornbelt in 2013, and with soil moisture rated short to very short in most of the region, precipitation will be needed. The Climate Prediction Center indicates there are better chances for precipitation in the near future. The precipitation prediction maps are showing dryness in the Cornbelt into the early planting season, but more normal rain fall during the growing season. Winter temperature maps indicate Cornbelt temperatures above normal, which would tend to allow soil temperatures that would allow any precipitation to soak in. 

A change in the weather will soon be happening, with the announcement that El Niño meteorological conditions have been confirmed in the Equatorial Pacific. Such a climatic change will bring improvements to Cornbelt weather that will be more conducive to rebuilding soil moisture this winter and better growing season moisture in 2012.

Source: FarmGate blog