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Published December 12, 2013, 02:56 PM

2014 crop should get good start

Though late summer could turn hot and wet, the 2014 growing season should get off to a good start, an area weather expert predicted.

By: Jonathan Knutson, Agweek

GRAND FORKS, N.D. — Though late summer could turn hot and wet, the 2014 growing season should get off to a good start, an area weather expert predicted.

Leon Osborne, professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of North Dakota, spoke Dec. 12 at the annual Prairie Grains Conference in Grand Forks, N.D.

More than 600 people attended the two-day event, which began Dec. 11. The conference was sponsored by a number of North Dakota and Minnesota commodity and farm groups.

Planting conditions next spring appear promising, Osborne said.

“We are in a time frame where we’re going to see a pretty good beginning growing season,” he said.

April might be cool, but temperatures will rise in May and June. Average temperatures in the three months, on balance, will be about average, Osborne predicted.

Precipitation for the three months looks to be about normal, he said.

In July through September, above-normal temperatures and near- or above-normal precipitation is expected, Osborne said.

Osborne, in response to an audience member’s question, said “normal” is based on a 30-year average for given locations.

Jet stream, El Nino

The Upper Midwest’s 2013 weather was influenced by dual jet streams, “a rarity,” Osborne said. “Normally we just have one dominant jet stream. This year we actually had two.”

The jet stream is a current of fast-flowing air at high altitudes that plays an important role in weather formation.

The 2013 dual jet streams, “the smoking gun we’re looking at,” help explain why much of the region received heavy precipation early in the summer and relatively little precipitation late in the summer, he said.

Though dual jet streams are rare, they have a tendency to happen in pairs. If they do occur again in 2014, the area’s weather could be affected for the second straight year, Osborne said.

The region’s 2013 weather also was influenced by the absence of both La Nina and El Nino, he said.

The two prominent weather phenomenons involve tropical Pacific Ocean water and have global repercussions on weather and climate.

Now, however, El Nino is beginning to develop again, which could affect the region’s temperature and moisture in 2014, Osborne said.

“There’s still uncertainty on this. But the betting line is that we will see El Nino develop as we get into the latter part of next summer and that El Nino will continue to strengthen as we get into the next fall,” he said.

“Even if start out a little bit cooler in the spring, we’ll make it up (with warmer temperatures) as we get into the August-September time period,” he said.

Development of El Nino conditions also could bring near-normal or even above-normal precipitation to a large portion of the central U.S. and into the Northern Plains, Osborne said.

Other thoughts

Osborne offered a number of other predictions and observations. They include:

•The remainder of 2013 will bring continued cold and a number of “nickel and dime snowstorms ” of no more than an inch each. One or two significant storms are possible toward the end of the month, however, and area residents should monitor travel conditions.

•The rest of the winter of 2013 and 2014 will be cold, too.

“The traditional way of thinking about these cold-air beginnings to winter is that if it’s bitter cold to start the winter, it generally stays throughout the rest of the winter.”

•Spring flooding could be a problem in the Red River Valley of western Minnesota and eastern North Dakota.

•The Southern Hemisphere, where the growing season is under way, is enjoying excellent weather overall.

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