The El Nino/ La Nina cycle gets a lot of play in ag press these days because it is one of the dominant factors that helps control weather not only in the Midwest or the U.S., but around the world,. However, Jim Newman, former ag climatologist at Purdue University, now retired, identified at least seven factors that he calls forcing functions that affect weather patterns. There are also other events outside of this group that can impact the weather pattern at any one time.
One such factor is known to climatologists as the North Atlantic Oscillation factor. Basically, it’s a factor that sets up based on conditions in the North Atlantic portion of the earth. One year ago, Ken Scheeringa, assistant state climatologist based at Purdue University, says that the NAO factor lined up with La Nina. Its’ phase a year ago also favored a cold and snowy winter. That’s way much of the Midwest, including Indiana, was hit relatively hard in late December, January and February last year with cold and snow. It’s the reason many schools were forced to use more snow make-up days this past spring than rural kids like.