University of Arizona (UA) agricultural meteorologist Paul Brown says current long-range weather forecasts suggest a warm weather bias this summer along with a possible above-normal monsoon precipitation followed by a potentially wet El Niño winter in the West.

These forecasts could be wet answers to parched prayers for western farmers dealing with reduced surface water allocations and smaller-sized crops caused by extended drought.

If the wet predictions hold water, some growers may need to harvest crops either on time this fall or harvest their cornucopia earlier.

Brown says a wet monsoon season could distribute much needed moisture across much of Arizona and New Mexico, plus parts of Utah and Colorado. Arizona is in the 14th consecutive year of drought.

Turning to the wet El Niño forecast, Brown says federal weather watchers have issued an El Niño Watch which means conditions in the Pacific Ocean off South America are ripe for an El Niño to form.

Brown says there is a good chance for the West to have a strong and significant El Niño event this winter. In addition, El Niño rains could deliver much needed drought producers in West Texas.

Pacific Ocean waters have warmed quickly in recent months. Subsurface ocean temperatures are warming as much as 6 degrees Celsius above normal.

“If this system continues to develop into a full blown, strong El Niño this summer, there is a 70-80 percent chance of an above normal winter precipitation in the Southwest,” Brown said.

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Some of the most recent winters with El Niño patterns failed to deliver a precipitation punch. Some of the climate science community suggests the system developing in the Pacific has a good chance to mirror the strong El Niño in 1997 which delivered good moisture.

Brown said, “El Niño moisture is a ‘coin toss’ around the San Francisco area but the chances of rain improve moving south into the San Joaquin Valley, southern California, and northern Mexico.”