The Wauneta Breeze reports that El Niño responsible for cooler than normal summer in Midwest.
(emphasis mine) [my comment]
Warming ocean temps lead to cooler than normal summer for Midwest
Friday, 04 September 2009 20:50
By Tina Kitt
The Wauneta Breeze
This year's summer weather — cooler and wetter than average — has many scratching their heads and asking "what's the deal?"
It's early August and Wauneta still has not hit 100 degrees in 2009, according to official data from the National Weather Service.
The hottest day so far this summer was July 24 when the mercury topped out at 99 degrees. On that day, the high in Imperial was 101 degrees, the only triple-digit high that town has seen this year, according to the NWS.
Similar conditions have dominated statewide, making 2009 one of the "top 10" cool summers on record in Nebraska. For example, Omaha was 4.5 degrees below normal for the month of July, setting a 100-year record, and this weekend Valentine set a record-low for Aug. 1 at 44 degrees, beating the nearly 100-year-old previous record low of 45 degrees set in 1911.
Still, there are drawbacks. For farmers whose corn, soybean and sunflower crops went in late due to wet spring conditions — or even worse, had to be replanted due to hail — they are hoping for heat units to catch up to normal as fall approaches.
So what's behind this unseasonable summer weather?
According to the pros, warming ocean waters have translated into a cooler than normal summer for the northern Great Plains, Upper Midwest and eastern U.S. — as well as record-breaking drought and heat in the southwestern U.S. and the Pacific Northwest region.
Art Douglas, a climatologist who heads the atmospheric sciences department at Creighton University in Omaha, says that an El Niño that began building in late spring can be associated with this year's wacky weather as jet stream patterns around the world are affected by this phenomenon. El Niño is the periodic warming of tropical Pacific waters that occurs on average every two to five years and typically lasts about 12 months.
El Niño's impacts depend on a variety of factors, explained Douglas, such as intensity and extent of ocean warming, and the time of year. Its effects include weaker trade winds, increased rainfall over the central tropical Pacific, and decreased rainfall in Indonesia. These vast rainfall patterns in the tropics are responsible for many of El Niño's effects on global weather patterns.
In early July, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientists announced the arrival of 2009's El Niño and expect it will continue developing during the next several months — with further strengthening possible — and lasting through winter 2009-10. [which explains this fall's record rain]
Jackson Weather Examiner reports that United States recorded its wettest month of October on record.
United States recorded its wettest month of October on record
November 14, 2:13 PMJackson Weather ExaminerJohnny Kelly
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and based on preliminary data from the National Climatic Data Center, October 2009 was the wettest month of October on record overall across the United States.
The nation averaged precipitation amounts of 4.15 inches, nearly doubled the long-term average of 2.04 inches from 1901-2000.
Over 40 states recorded above average precipitation during the month of October!
Three states recorded their wettest month of October on record! (Iowa, Arkansas, and Louisiana)
Only 3 states: Florida, Utah, and Arizona recorded below normal precipitation.
Nearly 45 percent of the contiguous United States experienced moderately-to-extremely wet conditions at the end of October, according to the Palmer Index, which is the largest such footprint since February 2005.
The very wet month of October has helped many states along the mid- and Lower Mississippi Valley achieve or near their wettest years on record and has decreased drought overall with only 12 percent of the country experiencing drought conditions, which is the second smallest drought footprint of the decade, according to the NOAA report. (El Nino is the likely cause of extremely wet weather across the South)
The Courier Post Online reports that crop losses staggering on South Jersey farms.
September 26, 2009
Crop losses staggering on South Jersey farms
By WILFORD S. SHAMLIN
South Jersey farmers are coping with heavy crop losses after steady summer rains saturated fields, creating an environment ripe for overgrown weeds, rot and disease.
The downpours damaged crops, from tomatoes, green bell peppers and corn, to barley, peaches and watermelon, decimating whole crops or severely reducing yield.
"The rains have just killed me this year," said Tucker Gant, 51, a vegetable and fruit farmer in Elk, who estimates his total losses this year at nearly $220,000.
In Mullica Hill, Fred Grasso, 52, said late frost damaged his peaches and rot ran through his tomatoes, green bell peppers, zucchini and watermelon.
"Nobody has ever seen rain as drastic as this year, even talking to old-time farmers," said Grasso, a third-generation farmer who estimates losses so far at roughly $50,000.
Gov. Jon S. Corzine has requested that 15 counties -- including Burlington, Camden and Gloucester -- be declared disaster areas by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture after rain, hail, wind and even a tornado caused crop and property damage across the state, said Lynne Richmond, spokeswoman for the New Jersey Department of Agriculture.
The designation would allow farmers with severe weather-related losses to apply for emergency low-interest loans.
"Weeds are a big issue, especially in a wet year. When it's time to cultivate, you can't and when you finally get in there and cultivate, and it rains day after day, weeds set in and reroot because of the moisture," Grasso said.
Weeds steal nutrients from crops, grow tall and block out sunlight, and prevent plants from drying out after rainfall. And constant rain creates problem because the weeds grow faster and herbicides get washed away before they work.
"It's never been that bad as far as I can remember," said Gant, pointing to water pooling in a field as he drove his pickup truck along a bumpy dirt trail toward 35 acres of barley overrun by tall weeds. "I have never seen water lay there more than two days. It should have been harvested, but you can't harvest weeds taller than barley."
Blueberry and peaches thrived in the wet weather but the same disease responsible for the Irish potato famine attacked South Jersey's tomato crops.
"Farmers' yields will be down this year because a lot of fruit out there wasn't able to be marketed," said Michelle Casella, an agricultural agent for Rutgers Cooperative Extension for Gloucester County.
This year's hay crop was such poor quality that Gant marked down the price for landscapers, making 25 cents profit per bale rather than $1.50.
Though struggling, Gant and Grasso are bent on persevering as operating costs continue to climb.
Gant's losses include $30,000 on bales of straw for mom-and-pop stores that order 15,000 bales and sell it as decoration during the holidays. He grew enough straw to make 10,000 bales but he had to buy the remaining 5,000 bales from a neighboring farmer.
Crop losses have cut into profits that the Gant and the Grasso family normally would have invested back into the farm.
"We have cut every corner we can without hurting the business itself," Grasso said. "We're at just about the limit where we can't cut back anymore. I'm trying to conserve."
Gant said he has depleted his retirement savings and supplements his income by working three days a week repairing tractor-trailers. He often works 16-hour days on the farm. His wife also works full-time.
He has trimmed unnecessary expenses, postponed farm equipment upgrades, and criticizes the federal government for coming to the aid of car dealers and other big businesses, but not farmers.
"Where's the bailout for farmers?" Gant asked.
"When everything went into the toilet, my costs didn't go down one bit," Gant said.
Gant said he would need a $250,000 loan to bail out his farm.
My reaction: El Niño is the culprit for all the strange weather we have been having in the US this year.