La Nina Update
Sea surface temperatures in the subtropical Pacific began to fall in April of 2020 and our current La Nina began to develop. Since April 2020, the subtropical Pacific waters have continued to cool and the most impactful La Nina since 2011/2012 has developed.
La Nina has been partly responsibility to many weather-related events over the past nine months including the very dry conditions across the western USA as well as parts of the western Corn Belt. The recent Arctic blast was also La Nina related. A remarkably similar Arctic outbreak occurred in February of 2011 into the Deep South and Southwest USA, much like what just recently happened.
As we head to the end of winter and head into the spring season, the intensity of La Nina will be watched very closely as it may have a big impact on the 2021 growing season, range conditions, commodity prices, etc., as a continued La Nina may mean drought conditions in parts of the USA, especially the central and west.
The chart below shows the latest La Nina prediction through the Fall of 2021. The lines represent different computer models and their solutions. As you can see, most of the solutions show a continuation of La Nina through early fall (staying below the Zero line). The solid green lines represents the average of all the models.
A continuation of La Nina through spring and summer will likely mean drier than normal conditions for another growing season in many parts of the far west (California/Great Basin) as well as into the Rockies and High Plains and perhaps the western Corn Belt.
The colder subtropical waters can have a big influence on precipitation patterns especially during the spring and summer season. Beef producers should monitor the status of La Nina as we head into spring, if La Nina persists you will need to be ready for the continuation of below average precipitation.