Drought, Climate change affecting hay and forage supplies now ➔ seeking long term solutions to the hay shortage

Changing Climate Pattern not Good News for the South

AUGUST 5, 2011
By: Kim Watson Potts, Beef Today Editor

Weather is tough to predict short term, let alone long term. But unlike meteorologist, climatologist look at different factors including historical records, natural events and other factors to predict climate change and find trends in weather patterns.

It appears that following 2006, we entered a new pattern. One with warmer and drier weather in the South and a wet Midwest, according to historical climatologist Evelyn Browning-Gariss.

That wasn’t great news to drought-plagued Texas producers attending the Texas A&M Beef Cattle Short Course in College Station, Tex., earlier this week where Browning-Gariss told attendees that we’re entering a time period of about 15 more years where dry, hot weather in the South will be more the rule than the exception. Those factors impacting today’s climate include: large and moderate volcanic eruptions, retreating and remnants of La Nina and Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (where the unusually warm Atlantic Ocean and Gulf warms the air above it).

She explained that the last time that the natural factors were aligned like today’s factors, we experienced:

  • Summer heat waves in California, the South, and the east Coast and wet conditions in the Midwest.
  • Problems with hydro-electricity in the South
  • A busy hurricanes season with 3 hits in the Gulf
  • A cold winter
  • A wet harvest season in the Midwest
  • Enough western rainfall to fill reservoirs to provide hydroelectricity

While the news wasn’t great to hear, it does allow producers to take the information and use it for long term planning. Knowing, for example, that conditions will be dry rather than wet, producers in the South can adjust crop planting decisions and livestock producers can adjust stocking rates and make feed purchasing decisions.

Also times of dry weather can give landowners and states an opportunity to repair ponds, reservoirs and water holding tanks to capture water when it does rain. And there’s hope that El Nino will return and bring better chances for rain in the South.


Have you been considering becoming a vegetarian? Beef producers most likely will be reducing the number of beef cattle raised in areas affected by drought.


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