Depending on where you may reside in the west, the news has been better or worse in regards to the current drought situation affecting many areas of the far west and portions of the southern Rockies.
The map below shows the current drought status as of August 5, 2014, courtesy of the USDA.
As you have heard in the news, the bullseye of the drought has been centered in California and into southern Oregon and Nevada. There has been improvement, however, for beef producers across New Mexico, portions of Arizona, Utah and Colorado since early spring. The prospects for more rain over the next few weeks in New Mexico, portions of Arizona, Utah and Colorado looks good as subtropical moisture will remain in place through rest of August. There could even be some scattered thunderstorm activity over portions of California as well.
In the longer term, there is more and more debate about what the fall and winter will bring to the far west. Earlier this year, there were shouts of “Super El Nino” coming which could bring big rain to California and the Southwest this fall and winter. As we reported this late spring, our feeling was that this coming El Nino would not be that strong, most likely a weak to moderate El Nino. Now there is talk of a very weak El Nino or none at all.
Our stance remains the same, there will be an El Nino this fall and winter. It will be of weak to moderate strength which is still good news for California and the Southwest. While there will not be enough rain to end the drought there should be help on the way.
Our stance is bolstered by the forecasted water temperatures in the sub tropical Pacific as show below for December, January and February.
The Japanese long range forecasted precipitation for the same time period shows near to above normal precipitation in the far west and southwest (light green).