Rough Winter Weather Ahead
The last few days of December and the first few days of the New Year has brought an Arctic chill to most of the nation from the Rockies and points east. After a fairly mild first half of December for most of the nation, winter has returned with vengeance.
Temperatures in some areas of the Rockies and Northern Plains were almost as extreme as temperatures experienced this past November. A big question for beef producers is whether or not this most recent cold snap will be followed by a period of warmer weather like we experienced during the first half of December.
While there will likely be some rebound in temperatures after the cold start to the New Year, beef producers across the United States need to be prepared for more episodes of cold during the months of January and February. The jet stream pattern continues to favor the buildup of cold over Siberia and the movement of this Siberian cold over the North Pole and into Canada.
This pattern is also being enhanced by a large area of high pressure near and west of Alaska which helps to drive cold air south into the lower 48 states.
Some of you may have been hearing about the mild weather in Alaska this winter which is similar to what we saw last winter. As a general rule of thumb, when Alaska has mild winters, the lower 48 may experience episodes of severe cold. It may sound counterintuitive, however, when it gets warmer in the higher latitudes during the winter, the warmer air displaces the colder air over the Arctic and pushes it south. Conversely, when Alaska has a cold winter, most of the lower 48 states will have a more mild winter.
We are expecting the worst of the cold to be from the east slopes of the Rockies through the Northern Plains, Great Lakes and then the Northeast. Snow could fall as far south as Oklahoma, Texas and Tennessee over the coming weeks.
Unfortunately for the west coast and California, rain and snow chances are low again until the third week of January when wet weather may return to California as well as the Desert Southwest.
Check your feed and hay supplies, we are headed to some cold weeks ahead during the next two months.