Friday, November 20, 2015

Colorado meteorologist warns farmers, ranchers to prepare for future drought years

...Bledsoe, chief meteorologist at KKTV in Colorado Springs, presented a long-term outlook of weather patterns to beef producers from across the United States at the Range Beef Cow Symposium on Wednesday at The Ranch. More than 700 producers attended the biennial symposium, which focused on beef production issues in the western United States. The patterns will likely affect farmers and ranchers in Colorado and across the country. While most of the country has been enjoying the excess moisture over the past few years, Bledsoe has been watching weather patterns to see when that moisture might break and fall into drought conditions. He said the United States is in an El Niño Pacific Decadal Oscillation Phase, which means the water on the Pacific Ocean is warm. It’s not only warm, he said, but last year from about December through February, there were record high surface temperatures. “It is starting to cool down a little bit from its record-high levels,” Bledsoe said. Whether the Pacific Ocean is warm or cold or the Atlantic Ocean is warm or cold, “it has a huge impact on our weather,” he said. The abnormally high surface temperatures on the Pacific have had an effect on much of the world’s weather. El Niño is causing droughts in California, which is affecting the farmers and ranchers in that area as they fight the cities for water. It also is expected to cause the Southeast to have a cold, wet winter. The phenomenon is responsible for a lot of weird weather happening around the globe, including October’s Hurricane Patricia in Mexico. But Bledsoe expects the ocean phases to shift to a La Niña phase in the next few years. “La Niña is the opposite of El Niño,” he said, meaning it will likely bring with it times of drought — every farmer and rancher’s nightmare. “Either way you cut it, this El Niño and this blessing of moisture that we’ve had over the High Plains is not going to last,” he said. “El Niño will peak here in about the next month or two.” With any weather pattern, local farmers know drought from years past, but La Niña threatens worse times in the future...more

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