Day: Hope for 2021 weather
The million-dollar question many producers across Wyoming and other western states are hinging their decisions on is the weather. At the Wyoming Bankers Association Agriculture Bankers Conference held May 12-13 in Saratoga, Meteorologist Don Day provided a forecast for summer 2021 and his insight on what can be expected from current weather cycles.
“The Rocky Mountain West and High Plains areas are extremely sensitive to changes in weather over the Pacific Ocean,” he explained. “When the Pacific gets colder near the equator, this area gets dry.”
These changes are largely based on solar cycles, Day shared. When the Pacific is warmer, this area acts like steam from a hot shower and creates moisture in the air. On the other hand, when the Pacific is cool, no condensation is formed, just like it wouldn’t form from a cold shower.
“The prediction for the summer is a weak La Niña, compared to summer 2020, in which the La Niña was moderate,” Day said. “This gives us hope the summer of 2021 is not going to be as dry as 2020.”
He continued, “What I express to agricultural producers is to really pay close attention when they hear of La Niña and El Niño in this part of the country, as it is going to affect us more. The mass media tends to focus on California, but they don’t do a good job of educating here.”
Day shared computer modeling is seeing the tendency for La Niña cycles to bring drought, but the cycle this year is not as strong as previous years. Additionally, he expects another El Niño, a warm, wet cycle, to cycle into the next growing season.
“Laramie, Platte and Goshen counties are really the only three counties in the state which have had decent precipitation this spring,” Day said. “When coming out of drought, we tend to see pockets of wetness throughout the dry areas.”
Though precipitation in Wyoming typically doesn’t fall evenly, Day shared this is a hopeful sign. He also shares much of the Corn Belt and Midwest experienced very dry conditions, and from this, weather-related changes to markets, such as high corn prices, could be expected.
In general, the forecast for 2021 is looking much more positive than last year, thanks to precipitation this spring and moisture expected in June.
“The four wettest months in this area are March, April, May and June, so if we can get average or above precipitation in those months, that bodes really well,” Day explained. “But, if we don’t see spring precipitation, we don’t catch up in the summer months.”
For summer 2021, Day shared a warmer-than-normal summer is predicted, and is centered over the Northern Plains into parts of Wyoming and hitting the eastern slopes of the Rockies.
“Predictions are not screaming a really hot summer,” he noted. “It looks like its going to be a slow crawl out of a really chilly spring, and we may not see warmer temperatures until the second week of June.”
Day added summer thunderstorm activity can also be expected for this summer, but there are still major concerns for wildfires, especially along the western Continental Divide.
“We are just now beginning to understand how something 4,000-5,000 miles away can dictate what our weather does,” Day said on the science of meteorology and climate. “I am expecting us to cycle out of this, but probably not until 2022.”
Averi Hales is the editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.