PLEASE SEE THIS VIDEO BELOW SENT TO CLIENTS ON SUNDAY NIGHT–AUGUST 2
Over the last. months, clients to Weather Wealth, my twice-weekly online commodity weather service, received my prediction for mostly a hot summer for US natural gas. Subscribers to our service were given a very conservative longer-term option strategy. That strategy would limit the risk from day to day trading on occasional cool weather spells, COVID-19 issues, etc.
The cooler weather (blue) across the Midwest this week helped to break natural gas prices late last week.
However, what is the long term weather pattern heading into the fall for US natural gas regions? Could cooling demand exceed the 10 year average deeper into summer? For this, we look at the most important teleconnections to get a “jump” in natural gas and other markets. These help to “out-forecast” the majority of private weather forecast services.
Analyzing Longer-Term Climate Variables
So what are the most important climatic variables in predicting weather at least one month in advance? The stars below represent 4 teleconnections that have the most influence on late summer and early fall weather, They are:
2) The Eastern Pacific Oscillation Index (EPO), which has to do with the jet-stream near Alaska. Right now, I forecast this index to be positive, which means low pressure east of Russia. That is a warm signal for the US.
My teleconnection program (above) is predicting a warm late summer and early fall weather pattern for US natural gas areas. A user of my software plugs in the teleconnection values, which are predicted. Voila! Up comes a weather forecast as far as 3 to -5 months in advance.
What in my forecast is based on these present teleconnections for the winter? How can one use them to estimate corn, soybeans, and other crops in South America this winter (their summer)? Can they tell whether natural gas will be in a bullish market? We recommend you start a two week free trial period, below,.
Three commodities that have been in the “dog house” for years are wheat (WEAT), corn (CORN) and soybeans (SOYB). The collapse in grains, of course, has been because of record global grain crops and mostly ideal weather in several countries. These include the Midwest grain belt, Brazil, and Argentina.
Global wheat weather mostly has been ideal. Drought eased rains in Australia three months ago. There also was a big improvement in the important wheat crops in Europe and Ukraine, two of the world’s top exporters.
For corn, Midwest soil moisture is presently ideal. There are no signs of any hot weather that would stress crops for a while.
Soybean prices may get a short term boost in potential exports to China. However, I cannot say by any means that we are going into a major bull market. The trade war with China certainly has been an added heartache for farmers and global grain traders.
The all-grain commodity ETF (DBA) has been in a long tailspin. This started when the 2012 midwest drought resulted in the last true bear market in grains.
Following the herd in trading often does not work
Very often in markets, following the “herd” is not advisable. I am a contrarian by nature. This does not mean, however, that I would blindly give a buy recommendation in corn, wheat, or soybeans just because everyone seems to be short these markets right now (especially corn).
Take the stock market rally in the last couple of weeks. Everyone and their dog (or should I say sheep) was buying. This rally came from ideas that the US economy is re-opening and an apparent bullish job report number last week. However, I have been of the opinion that this was, indeed, “herd mentality.” The world is still in a state of hurt and there is no guarantee that COVID-19 will end anytime soon.
What will it take to see a Midwest summer grain rally?
La Nina is presently forming in the Pacific ending the El Nino event. El Nino inspired back-to-back droughts in Australia and incessant snows to the western United States two winters ago (replenishing water supplies). It also brought generally ideal global grain crops. This cooling (La Nina) in the equatorial Pacific can sometimes bring hot weather for Midwest grain crops and for some natural gas regions. However, this weather scenario is much more common when we simultaneously have a negative (cool) Pacific Decadal Index (PDO).
When I say PDO, I’m not talking about prescription drug overdoses or about past due financial obligations. In climatology, PDO refers to Pacific Decadal Oscillation. What does that have to do with commodity markets? Specifically: the Midwest corn belt weather can be adversely impacted by PDO.
We are entering the most important time of the year for the North American domestic corn crop. If you are a farmer, you are trying to figure out how low corn prices may go. Should you hedge at these cheap levels, or is there a chance for a Midwest hot, dry spell? If you are a trader, you are looking for opportunities to ride the coattails of a potential bull market in agricultural commodities. Will there be any?
The Pacific Decadal Oscillation
The Pacific Decadal Oscillation is a pattern of change in the ocean’s climate. The PDO is detected as warm, or cool, surface waters in latitudes above 20 degrees North. During a warm, or positive, phase, the west Pacific becomes cool and part of the eastern ocean warms. During a cool or negative phase, the opposite pattern occurs. It shifts phases on at least an inter-decadal time scale, usually about 20 to 30 years. However, there can be some short term variations in this index that can drive Midwest corn belt weather.
There are several weather criteria that can affect Midwestern grain markets this coming summer. The PDO is a very critical teleconnection. When it is in its negative phase (cool in eastern Pacific near California), this yields the greatest chances for Midwest summer dryness that can hurt crops. There are some signs that the PDO is turning slightly negative, as ocean temperatures east of Asia are warmer than normal. However, we generally have to see the eastern Pacific cool near California to classify the PDO as in its negative phase.
The other climatic teleconnections in the hopper are La Nina (which is slowly forming) and the NAO/AO relationship and what happens with the weakened summer Polar Vortex. The weakened vortex I predicted last December was very responsible or the winter and spring collapse in natural gas prices (UNG).
The Key Point of this article is that buying the commodity ETF (DBA), just because it looks oversold and could be a “bargain hunting” play is not advisable at this point. While being a contrarian can often work in certain markets, unfortunately, following the herd has made the most sense in grains for years. If and when the PDO turns more negative and ocean temperatures cool in the eastern Pacific near California, then the potential may occur for late summer heat and dryness that could lift both natural gas and grains out of the doldrums. Stay tuned at bestweatherinc.com if the PDO goes more negative.
Some History and Reasons for Northern Brazil’s Multi-Year Drought
Call it climate change, deforestation or just an historic climatic cycle, but the on going Northeast Brazil drought has affected their economy in many ways. The drought in some areas has persisted since 2012. This is highly unusual.
There is another part of the world, which has equally suffered from drought. Of course, I am talking about Australia, in which a positive Indian Dipole and a weak El Nino signal have contributed to the worst disaster for them in modern history. No doubt, climate change is also to blame.
Brazil is the world’s third largest agricultural exporter, and the sector represents approximately 6% of the country’s GDP. In 2014, the drought wiped out 1/3rd of the coffee crop and helped prices soar 50%.
Brazil is the world’s largest producer of sugarcane, beef, coffee and orange juice. It is the 2nd biggest producer of soybeans.
The drought had prompted soul-searching in resource-rich Brazil, which has the world’s largest renewable fresh water supplies and yet repeatedly grapples with water and energy crunches caused by dry spells.
São Paulo state accounts for a third of Brazil’s economy and 40 percent of its industrial production, and the 2014 water crisis crippled factory and farm output as well as the service sector in a stagnant economy.
Since that time, you can see how the Brazil drought has expanded north. While Sao Paulo has seen much more normal conditions the last few years, Bahia and the Amazon region have not.
The northeast region of Brazil (NEB) suffered with the worst drought during 2012–2019 that has greatly affected water availability in general, in particular the hydropower reservoirs. I believe that deforestation has been a key factor.
(RED) represents the drought since 2015 affecting far NE Brazil
Drought Starting To Ease In Brazil?
Over the last few weeks, we have seen some of the best rainfall in Northeast Brazil in several years. The improving Brazilian weather has been one key factor in coffee prices breaking some 25% again. In addition, soybean production will be huge, helping to pressure on soybean prices again.
So how did I predict an easing in the drought for some key clients? After all, it is hard to know the exact implications that climate change and deforestation have on standard computer weather models.
Our CLIMATE PREDICT exclusive long range weather forecast software uses teleconnections to look ahead months in advance for global agricultural markets. Developed by Jim Roemer and Doug Stewart, Ph.D from MIT, it is the most sophisticated and accurate long range weather forecast program available.
One can see above how our model predicted above normal rainfall in Brazil last November, for December. The checked boxes represent the most important teleconnections, which influenced the Brazil weather. These are the positive Indian Dipole, negative AAO index over Antarctica and a lingering El Nino signal (warm NINO4) in the western Pacific.
So, is this a short term affair for Brazil? Well, computer models remain quite wet into early February. However, longer term forecasts and there impacts on global markets will be made available to customers in a special subscription service we will be offering by March or April.
The report below discusses various global weather occurrences and factors that make me feel that El Nino conditions exist, globally. This is in contrast to most computer models and weather forecast firms. The Taal volcano could possibly alter some computer model forecasts.
Global weather acting like an El Nino
After a stellar rally in soybeans the last month on ideas of a truce with China and the potential for more major soybean purchases in the months ahead, generally ideal South American weather has (at least for now), topped out the soybean market. Typically, during El Nino type events, Argentina corn and soybean crops are spared any major weather problems. In fact, usually yields are above normal for grain crops
While wheat prices continue to act technically strong, influenced from a variety of factors–1) The highest soft-red wheat stocks in several years; B) Lower US planted acreage; C) The chances of a major reduction in wheat plantings this spring (Australian fall) due to the historical dry soils and fires, excellent rains have hit Argentina soybean areas. This too happens during certain El Nino events, though the record forest fires and deaths to millions of animals must be, at least partly, attributed to climate change.
Warm, stormy US Weather—
Severe weather continues to batter much of the US south, while record warm temperatures can be at least partly attributed to El Nino type conditions.
Tropical Commodity Growing Areas–
Drought easing rains in northern Brazil coffee areas and a warm, dry winter for Ghana in west Africa are also signs that perhaps El Nino has returned. The Indonesian drought is another example
In my view, standard computer models and almost all weather forecast firms are incorrect saying we have “El Nino” neutral conditions. The above mentioned global weather and crop conditions suggest this.
Here are more reasons, below that I believe El Nino is present.
1–Taal Volcano needs to be watched.
If enough ash spills into the stratosphere, this would be labeled a VEI 4 volcano. A VEI 4 has only happened several times in the last 30 years and has been known to help cause an El Nino (Mt. Pinutuba), for example.
2–SOI index continues to trend negative; while GLAAM is positive
While everyone refers to ocean temperatures in the equatorial Pacific as being key to whether there is an El Nino or La Nina, just as important is the Southern Oscillation Index and whether there is positive or negative Global Angular Momentum (GLAAM).
The oldest indicator of the ENSO state is the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI): the difference between the atmospheric pressure at sea level at Tahiti and at Darwin (1). A seesaw in pressure at these locations reflects the atmospheric component of ENSO, discovered in the early 1900s by Walker and Bliss (1932) and others. During El Niño, the pressure becomes below average in Tahiti and above average in Darwin, and the Southern Oscillation Index is negative. During La Niña, the pressure behaves oppositely, and the index becomes positive. Right now, pressures have been lower than normal over Australia, partly responsible for the severe drought and heat recently.
The SOI index has been trending mostly negative for weeks
3–GLAAM is trending positive
Another teleconnection that Jim Roemer has been using to forecast El Nino conditions is GLAAM. When it is positive, El Nino conditions can exist. However, this is only true when the SOI index is negative (as described above) and there are warm ocean temperatures in the Equatorial Pacific (we have all of these factors, now).
You can see how Jim Roemer’s long-range weather forecast program predicted (below) and easing in the northern Brazil dryness to coffee earlier in January and some heat and dryness coming to west African cocoa. This is associated with +GLAAM values and could well suggest that El Nino, not neutral conditions have been occurring in at least some parts of the world.
Reasons for the Aussie drought, fires and record heat
It’s a depressing, horrible scene in Australia as numerous wild fires, record heat and threats to wildlife is creating fear and misery. What has been an historical 20+ year boom economic boom could be threatened to be derailed by this historic drought.
There are multiple reasons for the intense heat and back to back Australian droughts; The lingering effects of El Nino in the western Pacific, a positive Indian Dipole, a previous strongly negative Antarctic Oscillation Index and climate change.
Crops such as cotton and potentially sugar and other commodities could be adversely affected heading into 2020. The Aussie wheat crop has already tanked for the third straight year, helping to stabilize the world wheat market a bit.
A dehydrated Koala approaches a cyclist, looking for water in New South Wales
The mid-north coast of New South Wales is one of Australia’s most populous koala habitats, estimated at 15,000-28,000.
Experts believe 480 million animals could have been killed since the start of the devastating fires in September, which have burnt more than 5 million hectares (12 million acres) and killed eight people.
Other than Australia, there could be a big impact to marine life around New Zealand in which record warm ocean temperatures can be seen on ocean temperature maps and from satellites. Cool waters are necessary from upwelling to feed fish and the impact of climate change and all of the meteorological factors I mentioned above could have a negative effect on coral bleaching and more
A Warm US winter putting pressure on natural gas prices—still.
While there have been several weather forecast firms and hundreds of other meteorologists and scientists who continue to preach the near “record low” solar activity would create a cold winter, they continue to be climate change deniers as the world continues to heat up.
However, there are also three teleconnections that have had the most impact on the world’s weather and represented by the stars (below). The associated January temperature forecast is predicted.
Below we show our in house program (CLIMATEPREDICT) and why we felt weeks ago that a lingering El Nino in the western Pacific, the negative AAO index and positive Indian Dipole would continue to result in an overall warm winter in the Midwest and east, with the western US having the colder temperatures and great winter skiing conditions.
There may be a coastal Northeast or New England snowstorm within the next week, but overall, any sustained cold weather is unlikely till later this winter.
After generally stellar crop conditions for the 2019 west Africa cocoa crop, all eyes are now turned to whether strong dusty NE winds in Africa could potentially impact cocoa production heading into 2020.
Swollen Root Virus was reported in more than 15% of Ghana’s cocoa region this year, brought on, but what I believe is at least a partial factor from a warming climate and climate change. While Ivory Coast is plush with pods and had great rainfall all during 2019, the possibility exists that a re-emergence of occasional El Nino conditions this winter, combined with something we call a positive North Atlantic Oscillation Index could bring some occasional harsh conditions to west Africa cocoa the next couple months.
The Harmattan does not occur every year, but when high pressure builds of North Africa, Europe tends to have a warm winter and strong NE winds can bring Sahara dust into west African cocoa regions
The map above shows the typical climate scenario for a Harmattan in west Africa. Until this week, weather conditions have been fine, but I began telling premium clients last week that I thought the first strong Harmattan wind of the season would arrive the first week of January.
One can see above how winds could be as strong as 20 Knots in Ivory Coast and possibly Ghana this week and humidities drop to under 15-20%.
So what does a typical Harmattan look like? The image below shows the dust from the infamous 2015-2016 El Nino event that greatly zapped the mid-cocoa crop and caused widespread respiratory problems for many people throughout Africa.
I believe the advent of the Harmattan is one of several factors affecting cocoa trading again. What is my long range forecast and will things change in the weeks ahead? Subscribing clients get first hand daily details.