La Nina Drought Dying, El Nino Arriving

Beefs and Beliefs

I'm thankful it's time to say goodbye to this La Nina cycle

Published on: February 16, 2012

The Pacific equatorial ocean is warming and the weather forecasters are telling us it means La Nina is breaking up. That should signal an end to any real chances for major drought in the Southern half of the U.S.

Personally, I’m celebrating before the chickens are hatched.

Going into this winter some forecasters thought the La Nina pattern might persist through another growing season. Now they’re mostly thinking it won’t.

This is the second serious drought I’ve lived to see and I’ve had enough drought-induced depression to last a lifetime – even though I wasn’t in the worst of this one. Last year we had half our normal rainfall, which was way more than most of my neighbors here in the Southern Plains received. The time before was 1998 when the Red Rolling Plains of Oklahoma and Texas went through the entire growing season with about one inch of rainfall.

Art Douglas, meteorologist for CattleFax, said during his annual presentation at NCBA a few days ago that we should have a cooler and relatively wet summer in much of the U.S. – an El Nino weather pattern.

He expects western and southern Texas to be drier than average through the spring, but says by this fall Texas and the Southwest should get even wetter than the rest of the country is this summer.

The sea temperatures are changing quickly. In Australia, he said, the weather is already starting to look like El Nino.

Just last week the National Weather Service's Climate Prediction Center released its latest ENSO Diagnostic Discussion this morning and pronounced La Nina near its end. Yet it stopped short of saying El Nino is beginning.

"A majority of models predict La Niña to weaken through the rest of the Northern Hemisphere winter 2011-12, and then to dissipate during the spring 2012. Therefore La Niña is likely to transition to ENSO-neutral conditions during March-May 2012," the center said.

If you’d like to see a summary of what all the computer models are predicting for sea temperatures and the likelihood of entering the El Nino phase of ocean temperatures and resulting weather patterns click here.