La Niña has returned according to the National Weather Service and USDA Meteorologist Brad Rippey says that's exactly what the southern United States doesn't need. The weather phenomenon has been the cause of months of drought in Texas and Oklahoma and drier than normal conditions stretching from the Southwest to the southern Atlantic Coast.
"All indications are that with the return of La Niña Texas is in for another warmer and dryer than normal winter," Rippey said. "The most dramatic impacts of La Niña are typically felt across the South from October to April."
Of course this year the grip of La Niña carried through the summer, bringing record drought, high temperatures and significant crop and livestock damage to states like Texas and Oklahoma.
With this latest news, Rippey says the immediate concern is the winter wheat crop.
"It's already too late for most summer crops so we are looking ahead at this point," Rippey said. "The rain that is expected to fall in the next week or so in Texas and surrounding area of the South Central United States may be enough for some producers to getting out and planting the winter wheat crop."
If dry weather returns as expected, later in Septemeber and in October, that could be putting us in a situation like last year where the crop started to grow and then eventually wilted under dryness that developed during the fall of 2010.
"So we've already, as I look at it, gone through two crop cycles, the winter wheat crop of 2010-2011 and the summer crops of 2011," Rippey said. Most of those have been severely affected if not outright lost due to Texas and neighboring states and now we're facing the potential of a third consecutive cycle."
That being the threat of continued drought to the 2011-12 winter wheat crop.