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Cross your fingers, it's raining

By Holly Martin

Do you ever worry that if you talk about something, you’ll “jinx” it, as my kids say?

That’s why I have my fingers and toes crossed as I write.

It’s been raining here in western Kansas. And we hardly know how to act. We’ve had several nice showers. The grass is green and the fall crops are looking fantastic.

Yes, it is the middle of wheat harvest for a good chunk of the High Plains, but most farmers are just happy it is raining on their beans, corn and sorghum.

In fact, the U.S. Drought Monitor shows drastic improvements on June 17 from a year ago. In the northern High Plains, only 12.36 percent of the area is in severe drought or worse compared with 45.46 percent last year. And those numbers don’t show any of the rain we’ve received over the last week.

For the more southern states in the coverage area, the Drought Monitor shows still serious conditions. In fact, Oklahoma is showing 73.38 percent severe drought or worse, compared with 36.76 percent last year. Texas is slightly improved this year, going from 58.48 percent last year to 41.30 percent this year. But the last few weeks have shown some improvements.

Could it really be we have broken a weather pattern? Could it be that it might actually rain this summer in places where we’ve forgotten what rain is?

Recently, weather forecasters began talking about the probability of El Niño, characterized by unusually warm ocean temperatures in the Equatorial Pacific, which translates to changes in weather around the globe. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is predicting the chance of El Niño to be 70 percent in the summer and reaching 80 percent in the winter.

In years of a strong El Niño, strong rainfall across the southern U.S. is typically seen, according to NOAA. If this comes about over the next several months, will the drought in the southern High Plains finally be over?

There are many resources for understanding El Niño weather patters. NOAA is monitoring ocean temperatures and updates their website monthly at http://www.elnino.noaa.gov.

Of course, we can’t know for sure but I know a few producers who would be happy to have to purchase some new windshield wipers, a rain slicker and mud boots. Let’s hope those are the most popular items at farm stores across the High Plains this year.

Holly Martin can be reached by phone at 1-800-452-7171, ext. 1806, or by email at hmartin@hpj.com.

Date: 6/30/2014



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