El Nino is coming along with chances for a warmer winter ahead

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via Radio Iowa

Is it possible we’ll have a warmer winter over 2018-19?

An El Nino Watch is being issued by the Climate Prediction Center, as conditions become favorable for the development of another round of Pacific Ocean warming.

Meteorologist Dennis Todey, director of the USDA’s Midwest Climate Hub, based in Ames, says we’ll likely feel the impact in a few months.  “We could see an El Nino occur probably into the fall, is what I would guess we’re looking at,” Todey says. “There is a fairly decent pool of warm water in the subsurface in the equatorial Pacific. When you start seeing that and the computer models all line up I’d say, yeah, we’re probably headed that way.”

Farmers across Iowa will need to take particular note as the weather pattern often shifts the region’s climate. Todey says the impacts of the developing El Nino will be felt late this year into next.  “We have an increased chance of being warmer during the wintertime with El Nino,” he says. “The storm track moves up a little bit further north, you may have more mixed-precipitation-types of storms with the warmer temperatures than overall snowfalls.”

Todey says they are also watching the current warming trend across the Northern Plains.  “Even if you’ve got decent soil moisture, warmer temperatures start to extract more water from the soil because of higher atmospheric demand,” Todey says. “We’re getting to that time of year where corn is starting to use more water anyway. That’s a more immediate concern and then it becomes how much more precipitation are we really going to get, and that’s been a tough call so far this year.”

Todey says a La Nina — or cooling of the ocean — ended last year and we’ve been in a neutral phase since then.