There are signs that El Nino may be weakening, opening the door for showers in Brazil's drought area.
Sea surface temperatures have recently cooled in the key Nino 3.4 region of the equatorial Pacific Sea, now 2.7 C above average down from 3.0 C in November. As the El Nino is a climate anomaly. Therefore, the changes in sea-surface temperatures are slight one month to the next.
Make no mistake: This is still the strongest El Nino on record back to 1950. If you are interested in tracking the historical El Nino data, I will send you the link to the Climate Prediction Center's weekly ENSO report.
Tropical Drought, South Brazil Wetness
Drought remains very serious in the Brazil tropics as the calendar turns over to 2016. The leading soybean state Mato Grosso is very dry. The Center West district has accrued a 175 millimeter rainfall deficit the past 30 days, equating to 61% of normal rainfall. This is Brazil's largest soybean district.
The Center East of Mato Grosso is even drier. Only 114 millimeters of rainfall has accumulated this past month compared to 294 mm on average for 39% of normal rain in the 30 days ending January 3. A host of smaller soybean states in the Northeast tropics have suffered similar drought, shown in the December 2015 rainfall anomaly map.
Scanty rainfall developed the last week of December in the tropics, while southern Brazil has continued to benefit from ample rainfall.
Parana has received ample rainfall 241 millimeters in the past month. Rio Grande do Sul was even wetter with bouts of flooding. These are Brazil's 2nd and 3rd biggest soybean states together accounting for one-third of Brazil soybeans, all together.
These conditions -- drought in the tropics, ample rain in South Brazil, are the classic El Nino rainfall patterns.
Wetter Forecast Next Week
Late December ended on a rather dry note in Mato Grosso and the Northeast tropics, but the new forecast is wet. Above-average rainfall is predicted throughout the soybean growing area including the tropics. The sudden change toward wetness likely is linked to slight weakening of the El Nino.