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A Whopper Winter El Niño Is Coming

Emily Becker of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is calling the current El Niño weather pattern a “Bruce Lee” event reflecting that martial arts movie actor’s strong and lasting temperament.

National Climate Projection Center forecasters warn the current El Niño will continue through the fall and are all but certain it will continue on into the winter.

And AccuWeather is reporting that this winter’s El Niño could be one of the strongest in the past 50 years.

So what does that mean to you?

Well, if you farm in California, this is fantastic news. A strong El Niño this winter means that state will get higher than normal rainfall. “The strongest El Niño on record since the beginning of the 20th century occurred during 1997-98,” explains AccuWeather’s Brett Anderson, who adds that California was the target of frequent storms during the winter of 1997-98.

Nearby Southwestern states will also be receiving higher than average rainfall, expects NOAA.

But the opposite will be true for farmers in the Mid-South and eastern Midwest. (See the NOAA prediction map above for areas that will be affected.)

“A strong El Niño would also favor a milder winter compared to normal across much of the northern U.S. and southern Canada, especially in the Northwest,” AccuWeather’s Anderson adds.

Anderson’s colleague, Ben Noll, is very concerned that the current droughts in Washington and Oregon will persist through this coming fall and winter.

So why are El Niño events more aggressive in the winter as opposed to the summer? “This is largely because winter weather is governed more by large-scale processes (i.e., nor’easters) than summer weather, when local effects (i.e., isolated thunderstorms) tend to be more important,” explains NOAA’s Becker. “El Niño events affect the strength and position of the jet stream, and tilt the odds toward more rain than average along the West Coast and in the Southeast during the winter.”

You can read Becker’s latest El Niño report here.

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