A shift in sea surface temperatures could indicate that changes are on the way for weather watchers in U.S. agricultural areas. That’s the word from Creighton University Professor Art Douglas, who provides the weather outlook for Cattle-Fax.

Dr. Douglas says a trend toward colder water temperatures in the Northern Pacific and warmer water in the North Atlantic suggest we could be returning to a climatic pattern that dominated between 1947 and 1964. This pattern, he says, tends to relate to dryer than normal conditions for much of the Southwest, Plains states and Gulf Coast region.

The La Nina phase that developed in 1998 appears to have ended, Dr. Douglas says. And a warming trend of Pacific waters along the Equator suggests that an El Nino phase could be developing.

Based on these and other climatic trends, Dr. Douglas predicts higher-than-average temperatures and lower-than-average precipitation for much of the West, Southern Plains and Southeast during the March through May period. For the summer months, his forecast indicates above-normal temperatures for most of the West, Southern Plains, Southern Corn Belt and Southeast. Below-average precipitation will continue through the summer in the Western Mountain states, Central Plains, Western Corn Belt and Southeast, according to Dr. Douglas’ projections.