The experts are trying to forecast how the changing weather patterns may impact Nebraska’s planting and growing season in the year ahead.
Al Dutcher, a climatologist with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, says one focal point is the weakening La Nina pattern.
“If we were to continue La Nina conditions, the most common tendency is for drier-than-normal conditions in the spring for much of southeast Nebraska and areas to the southeast and south,” Dutcher says. “Unless we completely flip out of this wet pattern into the dry pattern we’ve seen this fall, that’s not a very likely scenario.”
Dutcher says the southwestern U.S. is seeing improvement from drought conditions. Weather systems have moved through that region recently that improved very dry conditions, though some areas are still severely dry. He says he’ll be watching the southwest carefully over the next few months.
“This area is likely to expand once we get into the warmer season,” Dutcher says. “The question is, does the troughing pattern in the western United States continue through the spring to give us severe weather and the increased precipitation or do we shift the pattern to one where we start to see warmth return to the entire lower 48 like we did last fall?”
Dutcher says weather patterns in the Gulf of Alaska and North Atlantic have an effect on conditions in Nebraska. He says it’s been colder than normal in the Gulf and that’s not expected to change anytime soon.
“I think with all the issues facing us across the Corn Belt and the potential for these inclement weather issues, particularly during the first half of the growing season, I would be very shocked to see us do baseline national yields or above for the fourth consecutive year,” he says.
Dutcher says significant changes in weather patterns since the 1st of December set the stage for the outlook for the new year.
By Dave Niedfeldt, KWBE, Beatrice