December started off mild in many areas, however, there has been a recent change in the overall weather pattern across North America that is likely to be followed by more changes that beef producers across the country should pay close attention to.
Many areas of the far west from the central plains through the Rockies and into the west coast experienced a very mild start to the month. However, since then the trend has turned colder and wet.
Badly needed rainfall and mountain snow arrived in buckets to California and the Pacific Northwest, the northeastern states had a taste or rain, snow and wind and over this past weekend, portions of Wyoming, Nebraska and Colorado picked up significant snows (over a foot in portions of western Nebraska).
Before this week is over there will be more rain coming to California (although rainfall amounts will be less than previous storms), the upper Midwest and Great Lakes should be prepared for some snow and the weekend could bring more snow and cold to the northeastern states.
The recent bout of stormy weather and the unsettled weather coming this week is the result of a very active southerly branch of the jet stream. Therefore, while it has trended colder and wet, the severe cold we experienced in November has stayed away so far.
Odds are, however, that we are likely going to see the return of some very cold air during the last two weeks of December as the northern branch of the jet stream takes a dive south into the Continental United States once again. Beef producers across most of the nation from the Rockies east should be prepared for the return of some very cold temperatures for the last ten days of December and well into the first full week of the New Year. Severe cold, bitter cold wind chills and some snows are likely during this time frame.
Hopefully your operation has benefited from the mild start to December, however, be prepared for Mother Nature to put the weather in reverse at the end of this month and into the New Year.