NEWS – for Nov. 7, 2011

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La Nia to keep U.S. north cold and the south dry

WASHINGTON/REUTERS A strengthening La Nia will grip the United States this winter, causing colder and wetter weather in the most northern states, and drier and warmer conditions throughout the drought-ravaged South.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said it expects the weather phenomenon that results in cooler ocean temperatures in the Equatorial Pacific, to become the most dominant factor influencing weather across the country … for now.

The evolving La Nia will shape this winter, said Mike Halpert, deputy director of the agency s Climate Prediction Center.

But the weather agency said there is a wild card a change in pressure called the Arctic Oscillation. Difficult for forecasters to predict more than a week or two in advance, the volatile condition could produce dramatic short-term swings in temperatures.

Still, weather forecasters said for the second winter in a row La Nia, Spanish for little girl, would affect U.S. weather. This could spell further trouble for the southwestern United States, already mired in the worst drought in a century. It has helped spawn massive dust storms, drawing comparisons to the great Dust Bowl of the 1930s.

Already 91 per cent of Texas, 87 per cent of Oklahoma and 63 per cent of New Mexico are in extreme or exceptional drought, and forecasters said La Nia will exacerbate warm and dry conditions in these states, and spread similar weather to surrounding areas, particularly in the central Gulf Coast and parts of Florida.

New seed lab opens

Nisku-based seed laboratory 20/20 Seed Labs says it is opening a new seed-testing facility on Highway 3 between Lethbridge and Coaldale. The facility will offer same-day priority accredited services for physical purity, green seed and 1,000 kernel weight.

Additional informational services, such as controlled deterioration, herbicide screening, blackleg and moisture, will continue to be directed to the Nisku laboratory. The lab officially opened and began accepting samples on October 11.

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