Springtime conditions across North America in 2006 are going to be dominated by three very important features.
1) the dominating Drought which has developed over the lower Plains into the Mississippi Valley and the WCB over the last several months.
2)  The current La Nina event which developed during the middle portion of the winter...
3)  The shifting QBO winds... from the  extreme  negative of  east   values  we   of   DEC  / Jan towards neutral   value by  late spring and the  Summer. .

As a general  rule   WxRisk.com does NOT  like to forecast extreme events and I go out of my way to downplay mass media hysteria by taking a position of    "scientific skepticism"    when  others  are   forecasting possible  Major or Extreme events       that could develop.   However that does not mean given the right circumstances I will NOT forecast major or catastrophic hurricane...   severe blizzard.... or a prolonged drought.    It is just that I have to be very certain before I start sounding the  "alarm".    That is why I urge you to read the summary section with a great deal of care so you understand exactly what my position is as we move into March 2006.

I am NOT forecasting a Midwest drought -- yet.    BUT if the rains do not show up in April and May 2006 for the dry areas of the WCB I will do so..


research shows that of  the last 10 major droughts in the Plains and Midwest eight of them have occurred in La Nina events. It is still too early to forecast a significant Drought over the Midwest regions but the central & lower Plains are in serious trouble this growing season. There is still the chance that significant rain could fall over portions of the Midwest during the months of April and May which could alleviate the dryness and early drought conditions which have developed over the last several weeks ....especially over the WCB. However if  the needed rains do not develop and we continue to run into a dry pattern in  the Spring 2006....  as we  move into the heart of Summer the probability of a significant drought over the Midwest would be dramatically increased.

These next serious map represents the expected conditions over the spring season in the lower portions of Canada and the continental US.

MARCH 2006 -- will feature a major trough over the western US during the first 10 to 14 days with much below normal temperatures and excessive precipitation in California...  the  Pacific Northwest... and well inland... while the lower Plains  and Deep South generally run quite warm. There will be some cooling the second half the month with good rains over the Midwest and Atlantic states.

APRIL 2006:   right now most of the data is showing the mean   trough position over western Canada and the Pacific Northwest which strongly implies Above normal temperatures and dry conditions from the lower Plains into Kentucky  &  Virginia   as well as all areas of the Deep South.   Portions of the upper Plains and Great Lakes could see a pretty rainy month.

MAY 2006 --obviously with MAY 2006 being the third month of the the forecast period the reliability is somewhat diluted. But most of the data is showing a pretty strong ridge High-pressure over the Western US and a pretty deep trough along and just off the immediate US East Coast. This implies a warm and dry pattern for the Rockies and Plains and pretty cold & stormy pattern for the East Coast... and cool and dry for the Midwest.





  METEOROLOGICAL    REASONING   ( in non   technical terms)


Many of you have heard of the old adage that ...."drought begets drought...".   Interestingly this is one of these older farmer's almanac weather tales that has some very serious and sound meteorology behind it.

What happens without getting too technical is that a persistent area of   very dry   or Drought conditions leads to a hotter and dry pattern because the dryness of the ground allows warmer than normal temperatures to radiate from the ground into the atmosphere. This heat rises into the middle and upper levels the atmosphere which in turn can feed an area of HIGH pressure in the upper atmosphere (if one happens to be around).  In this way the hot dry / drought areas end up reinforcing any High-pressure ridges or Heat Domes that might be in the area. This is a referred to as a feedback process... and it also applies in the opposite way as well. That is to say very wet and / or soggy areas can end up reinforcing troughs or Low-pressure areas that that area.

Over the last few years we have seen a persistent deep long standing DROUGHT over the western portions of the CONUS. All I have to do it is briefly mentioned the extremely dryness and active forest fire seasons they have seen over the Rocky Mountain states in the last three summers and I am sure you will recall how hot and dry it has been over the western third of the US. These extremely dry conditions developed because of a series of rather cold Winters and Springs over the eastern and central US which produced normal to above normal snow/ rain and below normal temperatures in those areas. However over over the western US this same weather pattern resulted in  series of very warm and dry winter's  in 2002-03 2003-04 and 2004-05 .

The Drought monitor maps which are produced every Tuesday afternoon from the USDA clearly show the effective of the Drought in the last three Winter / Spring season's over the western US. This first series of maps dates back to 2004 and as you can see during the winter months of very dry conditions developed over the Western Us... from the Rockies to the West Coast. It is very important to note that over most of the Winter and Spring months the VERY dry or drought conditions never really move and stay deeply entrenchment over much the same location from late February into early Summer.

Consider the 2004 season. From FEB 24... MARCH 30... APRIL 24... and MAY 25...  note that   there  was very little movement in the extreme dry conditions over the Great Basin and Rocky Mountain regions.


Taking a look at the 2005 growing season we see the same sort of thing. Very dry conditions continued right through the winter and into the early Spring-- see FEB 22 map. By the middle of April the drought area again had not really shifted... and by the middle JUNE... there was some easing of the very dry conditions over the Rockies with a secondary dry area developing from the Delta into the Mississippi Valley.


However over course of this past Winter of 2005-2006 there has been a fundamental shift in the overall patterns across North America which has resulted in the super dry conditions of the last several years over the western US coming to an abrupt that have now been replaced by abundant and indeed excessive moisture over the entire western third of the nation. The Map from NOV 1 shows rather dry conditions over the northern Rockies with a second and dry area over the Deep South. However by the end of January the dry areas over the western US were now completely gone and very dry conditions  to developed over eastern Texas eastern Oklahoma portions of Arkansas and with lighter Drought conditions over the WCB.
   The fact of that matter is that for many locations the last several months in the western US  have reported record or near record precipitation. It was the rainiest October on record in Portland and Seattle as well as the rainiest November the wettest January and one of the wettest February.   Snowfall levels have exceeded many records over the mountains of the Cascades and  the  Sierra Nevada's on the West Coast as well as the Bitterroot Mountains in the Pacific Northwest... the Wasatch... the Rockies and the Great Basin. It is no wonder then that the very dry conditions we have seen all the last several Winter/ Spring over the western third of the US has now ended. 

The drought maps of February 28 continues to show how unbelievably dry it has been over the lower Plains  and the western portions of the Delta during the last few months. It is the driest winter on record for many locations in Texas Oklahoma Arkansas the southwestern states and the western Louisiana. The very dry areas have expanded into the central Plains and WCB and  among the  10 driest winter on record over    KS  eastern COL   western ARK and western MO.

I cannot be emphasized enough how fundamentally different this Spring's Drought map is when compared to what we've seen all the last three or four years. The dryness of the western US is gone and has been replaced by excessive dryness over the central lower planes and portions of the WCB. Therefore it is bizarre to suggest that with a fundamentally different Drought map we are going to end up with the same sort of excellent weather patterns we have seen over the last 2 growing seasons in the US. The fact that this drought map is so fundamentally different from looking seen all the last three or four years strongly indicates that the weather pattern we are going to see this Spring /Summer 2006 could be fundamentally different from what we have seen over the last three or four years.


Indeed the placement of the extreme Drought conditions over the eastern portions of Oklahoma in Kansas with a moderate drought conditions pushing up into the Mississippi Valley Nebraska and the WCB strongly suggests that unless there is significant rain coming in the months of April or May that this hot dry area is  going to act like  anchor and become a feedback mechanism for the position of High-pressure ridges... much like  we have seen over the past   3 years in the  Rockies.   However this time around the dryness in the central portions of country could end up affecting or increasing the the over the central US.



 As  you can see  as of   MARCH 1  the   Soil  Moisture   anomaly    was    very    impressive....   this   map shows    100 to 200   %  below Normal   moisture   over       central and eastern TX  into   ARK   eastern OK  MO    ILL   eastern KS  and  Lower  IA.

    This   next map show   what the   SHORT TERM   drought     OR    wetter than normal conditions are     based upon the   various   climate  zones  of  all  50  states  based on the past   3  months.  AS  you can  see   many  of the   climate zones over    the   SW states   are     at  D3   and  D4   ( drought  level  3  and  4) ....  with more  D3  and D4  over    eastern   OK    eastern KS  western MO... and   D  1-2  over    the  Lower  WCB .  

      This  Map   is the   LONG TERM     drought map for the   various  Climate zones   based on the last  1-2  years... and  as you can   see  the    long term  conditions   over    the       Delta  ....  eastern RX  eastern OK   into the     LA  MO and IL   show   very  dry conditions....  this  map means  that    should  there  be a  problem with    getting   even  "normal "   rainfall in these areas    these  regions    could  slip in     D3 and D4   on the  weejkly   drought monitor   maps. 





Here are some good   Links for Traders   who need  a basic understanding.  La Nina 



 The La Nina   event  --cold water  along the   equatorial Pacific  --is the opposite  of   El Nino -- warm  water along   Equatorial   Pacific.    see  Map

  Over the  last 10 years   our understanding of   La Nina and El Nino   events  have   greatly  improved.   El  Nino and La Nina  events come in all different shapes and sizes...  strong  events   moderate  event     and weak events.  These events    are   centered   in  two     distinct  areas  ---   see the   map above.  These regions  are  1.2  ( the   WHITE  box off  the coast of Peru    on the map   above)   and    region  3.4.  (the    Yellow and  Red box).  

The  Current  La Nina  developed over the winter.  As it turns out WXRISK.COM  was the ONLY     well known    private  forecast company  that   CORRECTLY   forecasted   the      development of the La Nina event.

If   were  consider  the WINTER   2005-05   for a moment.... we   quickly  realize  that a MUCH  drier than  Normal pattern  has developed over the  Lower  and central Plains....   Much below   Normal  temps over the   Pacific NW....   excessively  went  over the    western US ...    few in any  Major winter storms ... NO   deep   prolonged cold patterns ....   warmer than Normal temps     for  much of the  US (winter  2005-06   was   the   5th  warmest winter  ever  !!!) 

  Now  as you  look  at this  Link.... How La Nina   affects   WINTER weather       note  that     from this map   you  see  almost  EXACTLY   what   we  experienced  this winter!   In other words the  Winter  of 2005-06  was a a classic   La Nina winter

If  we  go on the assumption   that the  weak   to Moderate La Nina    is    going to    last into the  SUMMER   2006  months of  JJA... then   we    can get   sense of what the overall pattern    COULD   look like.   These two links  show what  typical La Nina  SPRING    & SUMMER  patterns   looks like   --How La Nina   affects     SPRING       and  How   La Nina   affects   SUMMER  .    Not that   there does NOT does not  seem to be a lot of  hope of  getting  a  very wet  Spring  and / or  Summer.  The  TYPICAL   Spring and  Summer patterns from La Nina    show    above  normal temps    and  dry  conditions over   the    WCB.

 Rather  than bore  you with a bunch of     weather model    Jargon let  me assure that   the    overwhelming amount of   weather / climate model data shows  that the La Nina  will continue  into Mid Summer   at least.



 Wxrisk     uses  a lot of    climate  models in  making  the  seasonal forecast   some of which are  also used   by  other   meteorologists  but many of  then are not.   Two of the best climate models  are the   GERMAN   CLIMATE  MODEL  which covers the  Northern Hemisphere    out to 4 months  and the    CAS   or     Soil moisture   Model. This Model is  run  by   the   Climate Prediction Center  -- CPC --  and is run   every few days  out to  6 months.

 Briefly     both of these    long  range  climate models  did   an outstanding  JOB  this  past autumn in correctly  forecasting   this winter.  While may    private weather   forecast companies  forecasted  a  severe  winter   that  drove   up  the   energy markets on wild  speculation   these climate models  correctly    forecasted that ONLY  DEC 2005  would be a cold  month over the  East US and that a  severe drought  WOULD  develop over the  central and Lower Plains over the winter.




The Green line which I have superimposed on these three maps represent the mean jet stream position around the various High  and Low pressure areas that the German climate model each depicting. In the month of March climate model is depicting blocking pattern over southern Greenland which would tend keep a trough over the Eastern US ... colder temps.... and a weak Ridge over the West coast . This pattern would tend to keep the Plains very dry and allow some rain events over the ECB.

The German Climate model for APRIL 2006 shows a massive trough over western Canada into Alaska with a Ridge of HIGH pressure over the Eastern Third of the CONUS. This sort of pattern keeps the Pacific NW and Northern Rockies cold and excessively wet and eastern US warm & dry. The storm track would keep major rain events away from the Plains and Midwest.... with systems tracking Northeast into from say MT to Manitoba and the western Great Lakes.

The German Climate model for MAY 2006 shows two Ridges -- one on the West coast and one on the East coast and weak trough over central Canada . This sort of pattern COULD BRING normal rainfall events to the Upper Plains and WCB.



MARCH   2006 APRIL 2006 MAY 2006




By far away the most accurate of the the climate models in the past few years has been the CAS or the soil moisture Climate model. This model is heavily based upon the current soil moisture levels combined with the climatology of what has occurred from similar events in the past.

Each for these maps has two panels ... the Upper maps is the temperature forecast and the bottom map is he Rainfall forecast.

This first map shows in April of 2006 above normal rains for portions of Kansas and Nebraska and slightly above normal over the WCB... and much above normal temperatures over most of the eastern Plains the Delta and of the entire Midwest.
     The second map which is May 2006 shows a very cold pattern east of the Mississippi River.. very warm over the Southwest with extremely dry conditions over most of the Plaines from the Dakotas and down into Southwest Texas. Note again that there are no areas on either the April or the May soil moisture models which show above normal rainfall over the Midwest
    The third map which is June 2006 shows a rather chilly Pacific NW but near seasonal temperatures over the rest of the US.... and very dry conditions over the entire Lower Plains from eastern COL to TX. Note that the Model does show a slightly above normal rainfall over Iowa but most of this region is over the Great Lakes not Midwest.
   Finally in JULY of 2006 which is LONG way off and so this Model should not be relied upon too heavily ... shows very HOT western US and very cool East coast near Normal temps over the WCB and central Plains. Note again the VERY dry forecast for all of the Plains from TX to Canada and into Much of the WCB! Once again Please note that this model still does NOT show any areas of above normal rainfall over the Midwest.




As we take a look into the Summer of 2006 the absolutely critical question is going to be whether or not the ongoing La Nina continues into what the Summer or whether it will falls apart. As you can see from these next set of maps the impact of La Nina over the central portions of the US during the late Spring and Summer months is VERY significant. As I stated earlier since 1900 .... 8 of the last 10 droughts that have occurred over the central US have done with so with La Nina conditions in place.

Each of these diagrams have SIX set of maps for your consideration. The LEFT hand side refers to Temperatures the RIGHT hand side refers to Rainfall. The first row refers to El Nino events... the second row is for La Nina event and the 3rd row is for Neither .

This first map refers to the period from May June and July and if we look at the second row which is the La Nina maps
out of 12 previous La Nina events.... the Midwest experienced near normal temperatures with the Plains seeing slightly above normal temperatures.
 However the main  point here is the  Rainfall  during La Nina  event...  Notc that it shows a huge area of a much  Below Normal Rain fall at least centered over the central Plains and the entire Midwest in the period of May June and July. This map clearly shows the impact of why La Nina events often bring about drought conditions over the Midwest and portions of the Plains.

This second map refers to the period from June July & August . Once again looking at the second row which is the La Nina maps.... temperatures were running about + 0.50 to +1.0 above normal over the Midwest and the Upper Plains.... with another very strong signal for below and much rainfall over the heart of the Midwest .


This third map refers to the period July August  & September.... Once again looking at the second row which is the La Nina maps.... temperatures were running about a half a degree above normal over the Midwest and most of the Plains.... with another very strong signal for below and much rainfall over the heart of the Midwest

    Finally there is a new experimental climate model which is being run by the CPC and is heavily based upon the current soil moisture as well as the short long-term drought pan indicators. These maps are pre-self explanatory. These first to maps in this set cover the expected Temperatures and expected rainfall for the period July August and September.

As you can see in the June Jul Aug period there are no strong signals for temperatures running Above or below normal over much of the Plains and Midwest... but the Bottom map shows a strong signal...60% chance ...of seeing near normal temperatures over the Midwest and Upper Plains. The second man here shows map is rainfall for JJA ... what a strong signal for below home rainfall over the WCB and Great Lakes as well as the western US.


The second set a maps here refers to the period July August September began with the first mapping temperatures the second at being precipitation. As you can see there is a very strong signal above normal temperatures over all of the Plains and the Midwest based upon the current trends ... with a secondary chance for near normal temperatures over the central Plains an to the WCB. Note there is almost no chance whatsoever of any portion of the Plains or the Midwest seeing Below Normal temps if this Summer and this is due mainly to the very dry conditions which have of already developed.