October 13, 2015

Potential Impact of El Nino on Brazilian Weather Patterns

Brazilian meteorologists from Somar Meteorologia are comparing the current El Nino with the one that occurred in 1997/98. They feel the peak ocean warming will occur during the months of December and January and then it will start to fade. Below are their forecasts for southern Brazil, the center-west region of Brazil, and northeastern Brazil.

Southern Brazil - In southern Brazil, they are forecasting heavier than normal precipitation to continue occurring until January when it will start to lessen. Even in January and February, they are forecasting heavier than normal rainfall, but not as heavy as the next few months. Certainly the forecast for heavier than normal precipitation during the spring planting season has been correct thus far. There were heavy rains again this past week and weekend all across southern Brazil.

Cent-west Brazil - This is the largest grain producing region of Brazil responsible for approximately 42% of all the grain produced in the country. The forecast for this region is worrisome. They feel the rainfall from early January to mid-February will be 10% to 20% below normal and the temperatures will be above normal. Generally, this region gets excessive rains during this time of the year, so a 10-20% reduction may not be a major concern if the timing of the rain is sufficient. If there are prolonged periods without rain, that would be significant because this is the pod filling period for many of the soybeans in the center-west region of Brazil.

This forecast is also worrisome for the safrinha corn crop which will be planted during January, February, and early March. If the rainfall is already less than normal during February, it raises the possibility that the rainy season may end at the normal time or maybe even earlier than normal. If that turns out to be the case, it would be the first time in five years that the rains season is not extended. If the rains end early, it could have significant negative ramifications for the safrinha corn crop.

Northeastern Brazil - Of all the regions, the forecast for northeastern Brazil is by far the most worrisome. In the northeastern states of Ceara, Para, and Piaui, the rainfall during the summer months may end up being down by 50% and the temperatures are expected to be above normal. This region is normally semi-arid, so a reduction of 50% in the summer rainfall could really have a negative impact on the crops.

They did not include the state of Bahia in the area with the 50% reduction in rainfall, but all of these states border on Bahia, so I would assume the rainfall in Bahia would be below normal as well and Bahia is the largest grain producing state in the region. Northeastern Brazil as a whole produces approximately 10-11% of Brazil total soybean crop and 30% of its cotton crop.