We are dry what do the weather guessers think this December

Current forecasts suggest the state will not see any significant increase in precipitation this winter to reverse the drought, according to Al Dutcher, state climatologist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

“We’re probably going to see a more normal winter,” says Dutcher.

December through February typically is a dry period for the state, he says. “To eliminate the drought, we would have to set a record snow season, and even then, I don’t know if it would be enough.”

Those hoping winter will be more like last year’s with above normal temperatures also are most likely out of luck.

Dutcher said the critical period to determine if the state will have another significant drought will be March into next spring.

Dutcher: Dont Expect Snowfall To Reverse Drought
Dutcher: Don’t Expect Snowfall To Reverse Drought

“It’s going to take an exceptionally wet pattern next April through May to have a decent shot at reducing the drought,” according to Dutcher.

As the state progresses through this fall, forecasts are backing off on a projected El Nino event, which would typically bring cooler and wetter conditions to the southern one-third of the United States. “Models were indicating a potential El Nino into the late summer, but sea surface temperatures haven’t cooperated.”

Sea surface temperatures must average at least 0.9 degrees F. above normal for three consecutive months in the central and eastern Pacific Equatorial Basin to qualify for an El Nino weather pattern.

“There will be occasional bursts of the southern jet that will resemble El Nino, but then we’ll have a more normalized winter pattern with a big player being the northern jet stream,” he predicts.

Dutcher says the problem last winter was La Nina and the northern jet remained far north and kept very cold air from infiltrating the southern and northern plains. Currently, the state is not in a La Nina or El Nino weather pattern.

Dutcher says the northern jet stream already has carved out significant troughing east of the Rocky Mountains, bringing decent snow pack in central and southern Canada and the northern third of North Dakota.

“Therefore, we do have a snow foundation in place, so that will make a big difference. It should reduce the likelihood that we’ll see the extent of the above normal temperature pattern that we experienced last winter,” he says.

Dutcher says that portions of the Nebraska Panhandle, as of late November, had nearly accumulated half the snow it received last year.


Drought 2012 to past droughts

From the Ag journal

Comparing the 2012 drought to other droughts

William J. Wiebold, University of Missouri  |   October 5, 2012 ShareThis

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Crop productivity is an excellent indicator of drought intensity. Grain crops have specific stages of development when their yields are most sensitive to drought stress, so both stress intensity and timing of stress influences the amount of yield loss.

click image to zoom The most sensitive stage for soybean is stages R3 and R4 (pod development). Stress during this period reduces the number of flowers and small pods that are retained on the plant. These stages usually occur in late July and early to mid-August. Stress during seed-filling (R5 and R6) can result in additional pod abscission, arrested development of one or more seeds in retained pods, and reduced seed size. Stress during vegetative stages and early reproductive stages (indeterminate varieties) may reduce plant height, branch elongation, and leaf size. Usually, drought stress during early vegetative stages has little effect on grain yield. In 2012, some Missouri soybean fields were planted while soils were too dry to promote germination and emergence. Unfortunately in many of these fields, spring rains never occurred and emergence was spotty. In August, USDA/NASS estimated the state average soybean yield will be 30 bushels per acre. That estimate was reduced to 28 bushels per acre in September, which is 28% below trend line yield.

click image to zoom Trend line for grain yield is a straight line drawn through a graph of yield history (Figure 1). A formula for the line is derived so that trend line yield can be calculated for any year. The formula for the trend line in Figure 1 is yield = 0.35X + 22 where X is the number of years since 1962. For example, trend line yield for 1997 is (0.35)(34) + 22 or 33.9 bushels per acre. The formula of the trend line is related to the years included in the calculation. I used the same 50-year period that I had used for corn beginning in 1963. I did not include the 2012 yield estimate. For each year, I calculated the deviation of actual yield as reported by NASS from trend line yield. So that years could be compared, I divided the amount of yield lost or gained by the trend line yield to calculate a percentage. These percentages are plotted in Figure 2.

click image to zoom The three years with the greatest reduction in corn yield from drought were 1980, 1983, and 2012 (estimated). For soybean, 1983, 1984, and 2012 exhibited the greatest yield loss from drought. Soybean yield loss in 1980 was only 12%, which ranks 9th among all years. Corn and soybean respond somewhat differently to drought. Part of the reason could be the timing of stress in any one year. Indeterminate soybean varieties possess a development cycle in which vegetative and reproductive growth overlap. And, within a soybean plant development stages among nodes can differ greatly. In Figure 3, I present the top 10 years (within the past 50) for yield reductions for corn and soybean. The two crops share 7 of those 10 years.

The National Agricultural Statistics Service provides yield data for 9 districts in Missouri. I calculated trend line yields and yield losses for 1983, 1984 and 2012 droughts. Because many farmers said that the weather in 2012 reminded them of 1988, I included that year, also. The south central region was not used because total soybean production is relatively low in that region. Figure 4 is a graph of yield losses expressed as a percentage of time line yields for each region in each of the four selected years.

click image to zoom As I stated in Part 1, summer weather conditions often vary widely across Missouri. An extreme example is the summer of 1993. In that year, SE Missouri experienced drought conditions in July and August while heavy rains were common in central and north Missouri. Farmers in SE Missouri were irrigating crops and increasing levee heights to accommodate northern rains at the same time and in the same fields.

In 1983, yield losses of greater than 26% occurred in all 8 regions. The year ranked #1 among all years for soybean yield loss. Most regions exhibited even greater soybean yield loss in 1984 than in 1983. The exception was SE. Estimated soybean yield loss in 2012 will rank #3 among years and is only 2 percentage points less than 1983 and 1984. The pattern for estimated yield losses among the 8 regions in 2012 is quite variable. USDA/NASS estimates that soybean yield loss did not occur in SE, is less than 20% in two regions, and 30% or greater in four regions. According to the Drought Monitor, SE Missouri experience exceptional drought for much of the late spring and summer of 2012. Although soybean irrigation is common in SE Missouri, the lack of a yield decrease is surprising and may be optimistic.

Many farmers said that the weather in 2012 reminded them of 1988. Statewide, the soybean yield loss in 1988 was only half of the yield loss in 1983 and 1984. The 1988 yield loss ranks 8th among yield losses for the past 50 years. The stressful weather and soybean yield losses in 1988 were located primarily in northwest and eastern Missouri.