Storm Exchange: Holiday Weather Pattern Shifts May Alter Prices
Climate and Crops
December 28, 2008
For over a month now, the jet stream has featured a strong ridge in the west with a trough in the east. However, an arctic cold front, which recently blasted through much of the western United States, brought down an unusually strong trough across the region. This led to the arrival of much below normal temperatures.
Current indications are that the cold anomalies will persist in these regions through Christmas and expand into the Northeast. Conversely, a strong western trough, which is typically complemented by a ridge in the east, will continue to produce the warmer-than-normal readings in that region.
Freeze damage in California is the main risk with colder-than-normal western weather. A week of hard freezes in January of 2007 killed up to three-quarters of the California citrus crop, significantly driving up prices. Temperatures are higher now, so such a disaster is not likely at this time. Nevertheless, some vegetation may still suffer, thus raising prices.
Meanwhile, in the Southeast, warmer-than-normal temperatures are not expected to have any significant effects on crops. In fact, the warmer air may actually benefit the growth of crops in Florida that thrive in warmer weather, like string beans. Prices of those items could slip slightly if production exceeds expectations.
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