The National Weather Service has gained information indicating a strong El Niño pattern is developing in 2015. El Niño is typically associated with unusually warm temperatures in the Pacific Ocean.
Purdue Extension Educator Phil Woolery says that in El Niño years, winter temperatures are typically above average.
“It’s predicted generally that you have a milder winter. It’s dryer too,” says Woolery. “So typically there will be less snowfall. That’s typically what happens during El Niño in the winter.”
According to one forecast, guest writing for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, weather affected by El Niño will peak in the late fall and early winter.
Computer models have suggested that if temperatures continue on their current track, it could make for one of the strongest patterns in the 65 year history of record keeping for El Niño.
Woolery says it really depends on the amount of moisture in the soil, saying time frames are too far out to predict the effects of El Niño on spring planting.
“If we have less precipitation, I mean typically – there still could be other factors involved besides El Niño – but, with lower precipitation, you have less potential for erosion, but that depends on a lot of other things besides El Niño,” says Woolery.
El Niño does not guarantee large scale weather events in the United States. NOAA says, however, that it certainly can tilt the odds.
For now, Woolery says, the focus for local farmers should be on harvesting during dry weather. He says the effects of El Niño may not be seen until later in the year.