What is in this article?:
- El Niño could bring drought relief to Southeast
- Things appear to be changing
• “Now we’re starting to see warmer water extending from South America at along the Equator. This could be signaling the beginning of an El Niño, which would be great news, leading to more fall and winter rainfall.”
SOUTHEASTERN FARMERS COULD see some relief from prolonged drought conditions if an El Niño develops later this year, says Florida climatologist David Zierden.
Any discussion of the factors that farmers cannot control must include the weather, and that was the case at the recent Southern Peanut Growers Conference in Panama City, Fla., where climatologist David Zierden made predictions for the remainder of the year.
“I don’t have to tell anyone here how dry it has been in the Southeast after two years of La Niña,” said Zierden, who is with the Florida State University Center for Ocean-Atmospheric Prediction Studies.
“The epicenter of the drought here has been in central and southwest Georgia into Alabama.”
Comparatively speaking, Florida is in good shape, he says, having been hit this year by two tropical storms that were not anticipated.
The most recent one — Debby — dumped as much as 15 to 28 inches of rain in parts of the state, including the Panhandle region.
Looking at an analysis of rainfall from Tropical Storm Debby, it was a real “drought buster” for Florida, says Zierden.
However, some parts of the peanut growing region missed out on the benefits of the storm, he adds, including south Alabama and south and central Georgia.
“The Midwest is suffering now because drought is developing there, but we’ve been dealing with it in the Southeast for two years now,” says Zierden.
Much of central and south Alabama and Georgia have rainfall deficits of several inches over the past 30 days and deficits of 12 to 14 inches over the past 180 days, which is nearly half of normal rainfall.
So what can Southeastern farmers anticipate after two years of La Niña?