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Livestock Wx for Dec. 1, 2017: Drought Expands Over The Southern U.S.
Drought significant expanded and intensified over the Southern Plains and parts of the Central U.S. over the past several months. Currently, 15 percent of Arkansas is listed in extreme (D3) drought. Little Rock, Arkansas, has experienced its driest fall season on record with only 2.24″ of rain compared to a normal of 13″.
The below image shows drought expansion across the Southern Plains since late August.
Relationship To La Niña and Potential Impacts to Winter Wheat
The image below indicates typical La Niña precipitation departures during the months of December through February. During past La Niña events, areas shaded in brown/yellow/red have experienced significant precipitation deficits.
Based on this correlation it doesn’t appear these dry/drought areas will be improving in the next three months.
Another issue we have been tracking is winter wheat. As many of you know, August and September was extremely wet for the primary winter wheat growing area and this led many to delay planting. Since September, however, rainfall deficits have been running 50 to 70 percent of normal. If winter rainfall is poor, non-irrigated wheat stands will likely not fare well moving into next spring. If you look at how winter wheat has fared following recent La Niña events, it could show what we can expect next year. The below image shows production for non-irrigated winter wheat following recent La Niña events. Not every La Niña is the same, and there is some variability in production, but overall, it does not look overly optimistic especially given recent conditions.
Major Shift in Weather Pattern
So far in November, temperatures have averaged 5 to 10 degrees above normal during the month of November across most of Oklahoma and Texas. However, it looks like a major change in the weather pattern, including a reversal of temperatures, is around the corner.
A ridge of high pressure will bulge northward off the west coast with a “downstream” dip in the jet stream over the central and eastern U.S. towards the end of the first week of December.
This will result in significantly-colder temperatures for a large part of the nation, including Texas and Oklahoma. This could result in temperatures averaging 5-15 degrees below normal the second and third weeks of December. Texas will see some rainfall from the I-35 corridor east, while Oklahoma could see some limited rainfall across the eastern part of the state over the next seven days.
If you have any questions about what to expect during this weak La Niña winter please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org