During the Cattle Fax Industry Outlook Conference at the Cattle Industry Convention, Art Douglas, PhD, professor emeritus from Creighton University, presented his annual analysis of the U.S. weather outlook for the coming growing season. Overall, it looks pretty good.

Douglas has presented his long-term forecasts in the Cattle Fax Conference for 40 years, and his analysis continue to reflect advancements in the science of long-range weather forecasting.

Currently, a major El Niño event, featuring unusually warm surface-water temperatures across the equatorial zone of the Pacific Ocean dominates weather patterns in North America and much of the earth. The El Niño event has been in place for 16 months, and this winter it has contributed to rains across the west coast of the United States, helping relieve drought conditions. Northern California and some parts of the northern Rocky Mountains remain dry. The middle of the country, Douglas says has received El Niño moisture over the past 60 days.

The strong El Niño pattern now is beginning to decline though and likely will shift toward a La Niña pattern, featuring cooler surface temperatures in the central Pacific Ocean, by this summer. For 2016, Douglas predicts these conditions in various regions:

·         During February, a low-pressure system in the northern Pacific should bring moisture to much of the Northwest. The Southeastern United States also should receive significant rainfall. A high-pressure ridge persisting over Canada will keep the northern tier of U.S. states fairly mild, while wetter conditions will continue in the Southwest

·         During this spring, much of the southern United States will see cool and moist conditions which could extend into the Midwest and possibly delay planting. The Mountain West and High Plains regions could see significant snow storms during March.

·         This summer, as El Niño recedes, most of the United States will see cooler weather in June, but by July temperatures will climb in the Southwest and Midwest, and by August, most of the United states will be hotter and dryer than average.

·         For the longer-term, Douglas says historical records suggest we are entering a weather pattern similar to that of 1976 through 1994, which featured wet winters in the Southwest and dry winters in the Northwest, and good summer moisture across most of the United States with the exception of the Southeast, which could be see dryer summers in coming years .