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Kansas and the Super El Nino
Dr. Victor Martin

As of Tuesday, Dec. 4, the drought monitor indicates most of our area in severe drought. Overall, conditions are a little bit better for much of the state. None of the state is in exception drought. It doesn’t sound like much but conditions are slowly improving. The six to ten-day outlook (Dec. 12 to 16) indicates a 40 to 50% chance of leaning above normal for temperatures and a normal to slightly below normal precipitation. The eight to 14-day outlook (Dec. 14 to 20) indicates a 40 to 60% chance of leaning above normal for temperatures and normal to slightly below normal for precipitation. 

The 2024 wheat crop is in the ground and almost all fall crops are in the bin. The question on most producers’ minds is the weather out look for 2024. After a Super La Nina we have transitioned to an El Nino. Some are thinking this will be a Super El Nino. So, what does that mean? Typically, but not always, an El Nino pattern means wetter winter conditions. However, not always and it depends on several factors. With some predicting a super El Nino, the natural assumption is much more precipitation than normal along with colder temperatures.  

Not everybody is on board with this prediction. NOAA has this now classified as a “strong” El Nino and conditions should persist through the spring season. They predict a 35% chance of a “super” El Nino. The last being in 2015-2016. They caution other factors come into play. Some almanacs and other sources are calling for Kansas to be wetter and snowier. As of now NOAA isn’t.  On average this condition has resulted in two to six or more inches of snow than average. Not exactly overwhelming. For a stronger El Nino maybe up to eight more inches in part of the state. However, some strong El Nino events resulted in below average snowfall. Kansas as in so many things is in between.

What does the long-term outlook say? For January through March, predictions lean to slightly below normal for temperatures and a 33 to 55% chance for above normal precipitation. For the first two months of the years, our long-term average is about an inch of liquid precipitation per month and closer to two in March. For February through April, equal chances on the temperatures but about a 40 to 50% chance of above normal for precipitation, normally around eight inches or so on average. For April through May overall, we have equal chances of above or below normal temperature and precipitation. Unfortunately, the summer period is leaning to above normal temperatures and below normal rainfall.

These are only best “guesses” based on the data the models have and could certainly change depending on how the El Nino acts.

Dr. Victor L. Martin is the agriculture instructor/coordinator for Barton Community College. He can be reached at 620-792-9207, ext. 207, or