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Coronavirus, Locust and the Potential for More Snow

Update for March 10, 2020

Today’s USDA WASDE report left U.S. carryout estimates unchanged from the February report. The South American soybean production estimate was increased by 1.22 million tons and the world ending stocks also saw an increase of comparable size.

A few weeks ago I listed 3 important things to watch for that would indicate that the coronavirus is under control within the country of China. The first of which occurred today, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Wuhan for the first time since the coronavirus outbreak began in late January.

The 3 important things to watch for:

  1. Chinese leader Xi Jinping visits the epicenter of the outbreak-Wuhan China.

  2. Dates set for the 2 most important meetings within the country which are typically held during March-the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Congress and the National People’s Congress.

  3. Chinese students return to school.

Additionally the city of Wuhan has closed the last of the 14 hospitals that were constructed to handle the massive amount of coronavirus cases. The Hubei province is implementing a new “health code” system that will assess risk factors and allow those at low or medium risk to begin traveling and return to work, a large portion of Hubei had been in lockdown since January.

As the coronavirus continues to spread across the globe some ethanol producers have noted an increase in demand for their products as people begin to stockpile hand sanitizer which can be produced using the biofuel. In an effort to stop further spreading of the virus everyone is encouraged to wash their hands more often and use hand sanitizer to prevent infection. The Cargill Company based in Minneapolis produces and commercializes ethanol, they reported last week that demand for their denatured alcohol in Europe has doubled since a month ago. Other companies that produce the product used in sanitizers are also reporting considerable increases in sales since the virus ramped up. (Reuters)

Countries around the globe are working to establish appropriate responses to the virus if the need arises. In Japan the Cabinet has approved a bill that will allow Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to declare a state of emergency if needed. Italy has expanded their “red zone” from the initially hit northern areas of the country to a lockdown across the entire nation. Schools in Italy will be closed until April and food establishments are ordered to close by sundown each day.

Locust are traveling across Africa and the Middle East and have now reached portions of Asia. China has set up several stations along their borders to watch for and send out immediate warnings if the locust arrive so plans can be enacted to reduce crop damage. Because desert locust are capable of producing between 2 to 5 generations per year the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization have estimated that the locusts located in East Africa could increase by 500 times by June. These swarms of desert locust are extremely dangerous and damaging to agriculture, even a small swarm can consume an entire field within a few hours and many of these swarms are estimated to be as large as entire cities. Swarms of desert locust are generally comprised of 75 million to 150 million adult locust in every square mile and are capable of traveling 95 miles per day. While this sounds extraordinary, now consider the fact that about 75 million locust eat the same amount of food each day as 55,000 people!! The current outbreak began near the Red Sea and has spread across the horn of Africa and into East Africa, areas that are already prone to drought and food shortages. Locusts have also arrived in the Middle East country of Pakistan, the country declared a national emergency on January 31st in an effort to combat the pest. In the meantime swarms have crossed the Pakistani border into India and have been causing damage to various crops within India’s northwestern states.

The WeatherTrends 360 forecast for this week shows a very warm and wet pattern across much of the U.S.

The outlook for next week shows the warm trend will continue in the Eastern ½ of the nation but colder temps will begin moving in from the West into the Central U.S. This combination could spark another round of severe weather and tornado outbreaks from Texas to the Tennessee Valley. The Central Plains and Upper Midwest may be the unlucky recipients of another snow system if weather models are correct.

WeatherTrends is also confident that we are headed towards the development of a La Niña weather pattern yet this year due to the rapidly cooling ocean temps along the Equatorial Pacific. (Shown in first map below) This along with the very warm water in the Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf Stream along with a combination of other factors suggests the U.S. may be in for a busy hurricane season. WeatherTrends sees the highest risk areas for land falling hurricanes in 2020 in Florida and New England. (The second map below shows their regions of highest risk)

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