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MU Researcher Predicts Relief From Drought This Fall

COLUMBIA, Mo. -- An end to drought could finally be on the way later this year, according to a University of Missouri weather expert.
COLUMBIA, Mo. -- An end to drought could finally be on the way later this year, according to a University of Missouri weather expert.

The chair of atmospheric sciences at the University of Missouri College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, Tony Lupo, says some more hot, dry months are ahead, but changes in two atmospheric phenomena could finally bring relief this fall.

One of those would be an end to ridging in the eastern Pacific and the western United States.

“(Ridging) is what happened this winter,” says Lupo. “We had a lot of blocking, and blocking is a ridge in the atmosphere that blocks the progression of storms, and that means it will be dry where the blocking is and wetter where the blocking is not.”

Lupo says he sees that blocking pattern is diminishing, and at the same time there are signs of a shift from a La Nina pattern in the Pacific Ocean to an El Nino pattern.

“‘El Nino’ refers to the warming of sea surface temperatures in the eastern, tropical Pacific, and what that does is have an impact on the jet stream,” says Lupo. “The impact on the United States’ jet stream is to make it more east to west, or what we call ‘zonal.’”

The result, says Lupo, could be an increase in rainfall as we head into the fall.

“History will tell us that El Nino begins to really set up in the September-October timeframe, and I can foresee that things will start changing about then,” Lupo says.

That might be too late for some crops planted early this year, but he says it could be early enough for later-planted crops, and will provide relief for the future.

It could also mean relief for states like California, Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas, some of whom have been experiencing extreme drought for years. In Missouri, Lupo says it should bring an end to even the most minor level of drought.

“In this part of the country,” says Lupo, “we should be out of it by the fall and winter.”


(Mike Lear, Missourinet)

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