World Grain - March 2021 - 54

Drought
threatens parts of North America
Similar pattern to 2012 raises concerns about potential impact on crops
by Drew Lerner

minished to neutral ENSO conditions between January
and May (similar to the forecast for this year's La
Niña), but that La Niña had been around since summer
2010 and had been a moderately strong event at times.
7KHGL൵HUHQFHEHWZHHQWKH/D1LxDRIDQGWKH
current weather pattern is that this year's event has only
been around since late last summer. The drought of
2012 culminated after almost two years of atmospheric
dominance by La Niña, which had the atmosphere drier
than it is now, but there are still similarities between
the two years. This year's cold snap in February was in
direct contrast to the otherwise warm winter weather of
2011-12, but the reason for it was the result of sudden
stratospheric warming and not a part of a prevailing
weather cycle. If February 2021 is removed from the
winter months, temperatures anomalies for November
through January of both 2011-12 and 2020-21 are similar enough to raise a few eyebrows.
However, drought intensity based on the Palmer
Drought Severity Index in January 2021was most sigQL¿FDQWLQWKHZHVWHUQKDOIRIWKH8QLWHG6WDWHVH[FHSW
for Montana and South Dakota, which were not in a
Palmer Drought. There were also pockets of drought in

Temperature anomalies (C)

Temperature anomalies (F)

March 4-9, 2021

March 2012 vs. 1981-2010 long-term average

-16.0

54

-10.0

-4.0

-2.0

-8.0

-14.0

March 2021 / World Grain / World-Grain.com

NOAA

D

rought continues to linger from eastern and
southern Canada's Prairies through the majority
of the western United States into Mexico. This
region has seen little to no improvement in drought
status since last autumn, which is not a good sign for
spring and summer. Spring precipitation in these areas
is an absolute must. Without the moisture the region is
destined to heat up very quickly during the late spring
and summer, translating into greater potential for high
pressure to build aloft sooner and more intensely than
usual. Temperatures this spring will become a critical
indicator of what may lie ahead for US crop areas.
Do you remember 2012? That was an amazing
drought year in the United States that was equal in intensity and breadth to that which occurred in 1934. The
drought was more serious than the drought of 1988,
which had long been heralded as the worst drought in
the nation since the 1950s. The drought of 2012 began with warmer-than-usual temperatures occurring
in January and February in an environment that was
already quite dry in the southern Plains, upper Midwest
and southeastern states as well as in the western United
States. It was a year in which a moderate La Niña di-


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World Grain - March 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of World Grain - March 2021

World Grain - March 2021 - 1
World Grain - March 2021 - 1
World Grain - March 2021 - 2
World Grain - March 2021 - 3
World Grain - March 2021 - 4
World Grain - March 2021 - 5
World Grain - March 2021 - 6
World Grain - March 2021 - 7
World Grain - March 2021 - 8
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