What to expect for the rest of this growing season and into the fall harvest period.
• By Pam Knox, University Of Georgia Weather Network And Agricultural Climatologist •
The major factors to consider for this year are the long-term climate trends and the status of El Niño/La Niña, which will affect the Atlantic tropical season. Average temperature since the 1960s has risen across the Southeast by about 3 degrees Fahrenheit; daytime high temperatures have risen by about 2 F, while nighttime minimum temperatures have increased by about 4 F. The rise in nighttime temperatures is mainly attributed to increases in humidity.
Precipitation has not changed much over that same period while there have been yearly variations.
A Tropical Shift
Over the past few months, we have been in ENSO-neutral conditions and on the warm side of neutral. In the last month, we have seen a swing toward La Niña, and I expect that by the end of summer that’s where we will be. La Niñas are associated with active Atlantic tropical seasons due to lack of vertical wind shear.
Based on those trends, I expect the summer to be warmer than normal across the region and wetter than normal, particularly along the Gulf Coast. Increased humidity is likely, especially overnight. Fall is also expected to be warmer than normal, but there are no clear signals in precipitation, except in the Florida Peninsula, which is expected to be wetter than normal.
A Dry Fall
Predictions of the number of Atlantic named storms this year uniformly indicate that we will see more storms than usual. Keep in mind, an active season does not necessarily bring more rain to the Southeast. Last year was well above normal in the number of storms, but there were only two that affected Georgia.
Since the Gulf of Mexico is quite warm, it means there is a potential for more rapid intensification of Gulf storms than usual.
Because storms could develop quickly, watch weather forecasts carefully when planning fieldwork and harvest.
If La Niña develops quickly, there is a chance for dry conditions in the fall. What happens at your location will depend on where the tropical storms go this year.