The La Nina weather pattern is weakening and may be completely gone before spring planting season starts in Nebraska, but forecasters aren’t writing it off yet.
State Climatologist Al Dutcher says ocean temperatures in the Pacific are cooling while the Atlantic is warming. Dutcher says it’s a good indication the La Nina is dying and will go to a neutral phase next.
“If we look at what’s going on right now, I’d say ‘neutral’ would be the best forecast,” Dutcher says. “If we look at what’s happened in the last 30 days, it really doesn’t even quantify it as a La Nina event. It’s more of warm phase. If you look at temperatures, there’s a small pocket of below-normal temperatures and underneath it, 150 meters of a cold pocket. That’ll probably work its way eastward over the next couple of months and dissipate.”
While some computer models are predicting a continued La Nina event, Dutcher says we should know for sure what impact the La Nina will have within a few months.
“If we start to go into the spring period and this thing is continuing to weaken, I have a high degree of confidence that probably the event is over, that it’s not going into a multi-year,” Dutcher says. “Until I see the dissipation, we don’t write this event off at all, especially when you consider the Gulf of Alaska and how rapidly that’s cooled off and how intense that cold has got. That’s really supporting a lot of this cold air that’s penetrating a substantial portion of North America right now.”
Dutcher says the only thing that keeps him from discounting La Nina is the drought in the southeastern U.S., as he says that’s where the last multi-year drought began.
By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton