1992 - Volume #16, Issue #4, Page #19[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
Climatologist Predicts DroughtIf weather history repeats itself, this summer will be drier than normal. But it won't be nearly as dry as 1993, says Dr. Louis Thompson, Emeritus Associate Dean of Agriculture at Iowa State University.
Fifteen years ago, while working as an editor at Successful Farming Magazine, I attended a speech by Thompson during which he predicted a drought in 1992. I never forgot his dire prediction and when this summer started out dry, I decided to track Thompson down and see what he'd have to say now about his prediction.
Thompson was an Iowa State agronomist for 30 years and gained a national reputation for his success in predicting weather patterns. He predicted the drought cycle of the 1970s and the wet cycle that followed from 1978 to 1982. He also predicted the resulting buildup in grain surpluses and falling commodity and land prices. He bases his predictions on studies of cyclical weather patterns over the past 200 years. Although Dr. Thompson re-tired from teaching, he's still conducting an Iowa State research project and has participated in 60 seminars over the past five years.
"According to my calculations, we're right in the middle of a dry cycle," says Thompson. "If it weren't for the El Nino that's occuring now (an abnormal warming of the Pacific Ocean), we'd have a severe drought this summer."
Thompson says the really dry weather will occur next year. "All major droughts in the past 100 years have normally followed years when we had an El Nino and were already in a dry cycle, so I think we're likely to have a severe drought next year."
What do his predictions mean to you?
"Although this summer will be drier than normal, most of the Corn Belt has good subsoil moisture so the effects will be moderate. Still, I'm expecting a bull market for corn and soybeans. The driest areas will be the central part of the Corn Belt, including Illinois, eastern Iowa, and surrounding areas."
The good news is that he predicts another wet cycle the last half of this decade.
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