“The summer weather will depend on when El Niño ends, with an early end favoring summer drought in the South,” says Art Douglas, CattleFax meteorologist.

El Niño – the periodic weather phenomena characterized by unusually warm sea-surface temperatures in the equatorial Pacific – is ending, likely within the next month to six weeks, or next fall, depending on which forecast you believe.

At the recent annual CattleFax Market Outlook Seminar, Douglas explained that a couple of commonly used weather models, including that of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, favor El Niño conditions persisting through the summer. That would help boost the odds of moisture and cooler temps through the summer, especially in the South and Southwest.

Douglas’ own model, though, agrees with others predicting an end to El Niño before summer, which would increase the odds of drought conditions in the southern tier of states.

One thing everyone agrees on, says Douglas, is that no one could have predicted the conditions that have made for one of the coldest, snowiest December’s in recent memory. He explains it had to do with an unpredictable stratospheric warming that began in Siberia.