El Niño predicted, but likely to be weak
Third, the typical response during El Niño onset is increased moisture into the southwestern U.S. as evaporated moisture is lifted from the Equatorial Pacific northeastward toward North America. This tongue of moisture can enhance the Monsoon season that usually begins in mid-July in southern Arizona. Additionally, hurricane activity in the eastern Pacific often will ride up the Mexico coast toward the Baja Peninsula, eventually shifting moisture into the southwestern U.S. and enhancing the monsoon season.
Typical impacts in Nebraska during El Niño events include enhanced moisture for the western half of the state during the second half of the summer as Monsoon moisture is moved northeast from the southwestern U.S. into the western High Plains. There is evidence of a slight increase in fall moisture across the southern half of Nebraska as the Southern (Sub-Tropical) Jet begins to dominate U.S. weather patterns and the Northern Jet is displaced well to our north. The Dakotas and northern Nebraska have a greater tendency for drier than normal fall conditions.
The strongest correlations in Nebraska during winter are for above normal temperatures across Nebraska and the northern Plains. A weaker Northern Jet stream is unable to regularly release Arctic air into our region. The main storm track usually occurs with the Southern Jet bringing above normal moisture to the southern and central Plains. The southern half of Nebraska has a slight tendency for above normal moisture, but it is not a strong correlation. There is evidence of a weak tendency for below normal winter precipitation across the northern Plains, including extreme northern Nebraska.
If the El Niño event is able to maintain itself during the spring, such that a multi-year event is predicted, there is an increased drought risk for the northern Corn Belt. The best odds for drought development in Nebraska occur across the northern third of the state, primarily due to the lack of winter and early spring moisture. Multi-year events tend to be moderate to strong during the first year of development and conditions that occur during this period can be magnified during the second year of the event.
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