When Art Douglas talks, Northwest farmers listen.
The weatherman — a longtime fixture at the Spokane Ag Show — will be talking again during this year’s show, albeit online. He will be a featured speaker during this year’s virtual ag show.
Public gatherings and events such as ag shows have been banned by state officials trying to stanch the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.
Douglas is a professor emeritus at Creighton University in Omaha, Neb.
His forecasts are highly anticipated by farmers who attend the show each year.
Speaking to the Capital Press in December, Douglas predicted “normal” temperatures in December and January, with cold outbreaks followed by warmups.
February will be the “wild card,” he predicted. A polar trough could allow more arctic air to come south from Canada. But by the time that happens, he said, the wheat-producing parts of the region will hopefully have good snow cover.
Douglas expects the moderate La Nina conditions to continue into the spring, bringing cool, damp weather with it.
While the Northwest will be damp, the rest of the nation won’t be as lucky. La Nina — the cooling of the Pacific Ocean’s surface — also brings drought to parts of the southern U.S.
If La Nina persists into the summer, it means drought for the rest of the U.S., he said.
La Nina has lasted long enough to build up a warm water pool in the Pacific Ocean, but high pressure may not relax enough to allow trade winds to push it back. That makes an El Nino unlikely next winter, Douglas said.
“This La Nina could continue to last for another year,” he said. “Historically, La Nina events typically last between two and three years.”
In California, Douglas expects drought to persist through the winter and spring.
A dry weather pattern in the Southeastern U.S. in winter and spring will likely be short-lived. That region will likely recoup its moisture come summer, Douglas said.