You’ve heard of El Niño, but most people haven’t heard of the Madden-Julian Oscillation, or the MJO. This is an atmospheric disturbance that occurs along the equator, in the tropics, and travels from the Indian Ocean all the way around the globe once every 30-60 days. Think of it as the beginning of a hurricane that’s trapped on the equator. Because it’s trapped, it can’t rotate and organize itself the way a hurricane would, so instead it remains a mass of thunderstorms.
While it may seem like that doesn’t have much to do with us here in the U.S., the MJO can actually have more of an effect on sub-seasonal weather variability than even El Niño or La Niña. The MJO is the climatological phenomena with the greatest impact on the sub-seasonal scale, even in areas thousands of miles away from its point of origin. In short: it matters, a lot. While it’s frequently discussed in meteorological circles, it’s not as commonly known outside of these areas, and this may be in part due to the fact that it’s still not very well understood.
In August, the intensity of the MJO was fairly high. Now, the intensity has decreased significantly, which has drastically changed our predictions for harvest season and caused a drier season. This is just one example of how forecasts can change quickly and without warning, and affect an entire season.
While this year is not likely to be quite as ideal as last, there are some silver linings to the forecast. The rain will continue to bring some much-needed drought relief to areas like western Iowa and northern Nebraska. Forecast offices even predict that Iowa could be completely drought-free by the end of harvest. Of course, it’s still a good idea to plan accordingly for the rain, and make sure you’re using FieldView’s weather monitoring features to determine the best times to get in the field.
Weather forecasting is constantly evolving, but no matter how technologically advanced our models get, there will always be some level of unpredictability. This is especially true the further you get down the forecast funnel and the more factors you introduce. Forecasting will never be foolproof, but one thing you can count on is FieldView keeping you up-to-date on your operation, so you can be prepared for anything. As always, we’ll do our best to keep you informed of any large-scale changes, and are here to help if you need support. Happy harvesting!