Following the third wettest year in Georgia history, the early months of 2014 have been fairly dry across Georgia. Intermittent rain has helped maintain soil moisture in many parts of the state. Compared to last year, conditions have been more suitable for field work in 2014 so far.

These conditions are expected to continue for the next few months. There is a slight increased chance of warmer-than-normal temperatures over the growing season based on recent trends in warmth across Georgia. The swings in temperature from cold to warm conditions, which have occurred all winter, are likely to continue through the next two months and will affect soil temperatures across the state.

The predictions for rainfall this growing season put all of Georgia in equal chances of below, above, and normal precipitation; in other words, there is no skill for rainfall predictions for the growing season this year. This is typical for years with no El Nino or La Nina.

Looking ahead, we see early signs for the development of El Nino later this summer. If an El Nino develops, it generally reduces the likelihood of tropical storms and hurricanes over the Atlantic Ocean by “blowing the top off” of developing tropical systems. This could reduce rainfall in the fall and contribute to good harvesting conditions. It is also likely to lead to cool and wet conditions next winter, particularly in the southern half of Georgia. This is an encouraging sign that Georgia may avoid drought in 2015 by starting with a good supply of soil moisture built up over the 2014-2015 winter season.