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La Nina To Form In July As Storm, Drought Fears Flare

Posted by Lindy on July 12, 2010

Date: 12-Jul-10

“The majority of (computer) models now predict La Nina conditions … to develop during June-August and to continue through early 2011,”  the Climate Prediction Centre explained.

La Nina spawns colder-than-normal waters in the equatorial Pacific Ocean. In contrast, El Nino is an abnormal warming of those waters. Both wreak havoc in the weather from the U.S. to India and occur every three to four years.

The emergence of a La Nina is of particular concern to the oil industry in the Gulf, already reeling from the massive oil spill caused by a leaking BP well. This is because forecasters have said the number of hurricanes striking the United States increases sharply during La Nina years and shrinks when El Nino hits.

Increased wind shear in an El Nino tends to rip apart embryonic storms in the Atlantic basin and Caribbean Sea. But those winds are limited in a La Nina year, allowing storms to flourish.

Last May, U.S. National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicted this Atlantic storm season could be the worst since the record-breaking 2005. NOAA forecast up to 23 named storms, of which 14 could power up to hurricanes. June has already produced the first hurricane in 15 years, Alex, which dissipated in Mexico last weekend. For American farmers, La Nina increases the chance of a dry spell in the Corn Belt, especially during the critical pollination stage of the crop in July. Rain is vital in this month for corn yields. And those showers are also needed in August for soy-beans when they go into pod setting, which contains the beans and affects the yield of the crop. The United States is the world’s largest producer and exporter of corn and soy-beans, and any production problem could lead to higher feed prices across the globe.

In a La Nina, drier-than-normal weather can occur from southern Brazil all the way to central Argentina during their winter. Aside from sugar cane, that may also affect coffee production in Brazil, the world’s top producer. The Latin American country is the world’s second biggest exporter of soy-beans. Argentina is the biggest exporter of soy-meal and soy-oil.  This could turn into a prolonged dry spell as La Nina strengthens.

The Indian monsoon tends to be greater than normal especially in the north-western part of the country in a La Nina year.  La Nina tends to increase rainfall over Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and northern Australia.

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