El Nino brings weather extremes to U.S.
A weather expert says the current slow-moving storm system that is bringing blizzard conditions to the plains and mild temperatures elsewhere is bringing welcome moisture to places that need it.
Meteorologist Matt Makens tells Brownfield in mid-December, the atmosphere started to show a pattern typical of an El Nino, drawing storms away from the Pacific Northwest, Canada, the Gulf Coast and the Eastern Seaboard. “And now what we’re kind of doing is trying to bring that northern flow of storms to the south of it, so they’re going to favor the Southwest, the southern plains, Colorado, Kansas, those kind of places.”
Makens says this weather system is hitting much of the plains including a lot of wheat and pasture ground before those areas have firmed up and frozen. “(It’s) trying to draw in water from the Gulf of Mexico, bring it over the southern and central plains, and the southern delta, too, so there’s going to be some rainfall there but it’s far enough away from the center of the storm so it’s not going to be gangbusters rain, but it’s going to be valuable water.” He says, “This is really good to help the soil moisture. These kind of late-fall early-winter storms, when your ground is not fully hardened up, these are really good. This is water that is going into your ground that you’re going to use as soon as we thaw out in the spring.”
He says even though it’s bringing moisture, this storm system won’t improve river flows. “There will be some soil penetration because a lot of the ground is not frozen in those areas, so you’re also going to boost your soil moisture a bit too, which is nice, but as far as helping the overall river systems, it’s not going to have that big of an impact.”
Makens says there are some deep pockets of snow in Colorado, Wyoming, and Nebraska, but the Dakotas have more of an icing threat. He says areas under a blizzard warning might get another foot of snow, but the real issue there will be high winds and low visibility.
Audio: Matt Makens discusses the slow-moving weather system impacting the U.S. with Brownfield’s Larry Lee