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Southern Minnesota Facing Long-term Drought

April 26, 2012
By: Sara Schafer, Farm Journal Media Business and Crops Editor

Rain recently fell in portions of Iowa, Wisconsin, and southern Minnesota, but that moisture wasn’t enough to replenish soils in parts of Minnesota.

According to the April 26 U.S. Drought Monitor, in southern Minnesota, the topsoil moisture situation has improved, but drought remains. Dry conditions from August through October are still lingering, which has caused southern Minnesota to be designated a long-term drought impact.

Southern Minnesota now joins western Texas, southern Colorado, parts of Oklahoma, the Southeast and Arizona, where long-term drought conditions are present.

The Weather Ahead

The Climate Prediction Center’s 6-10 day forecast (May 1-5) shows favorable odds for above median precipitation over the Midwest, the Pacific Northwest, extreme southern Florida, southeastern Alaska, and the Alaska Panhandle. Warmer than normal temperatures are favored over most of the lower 48 states, with the highest probabilities (60 percent) centered over the Corn Belt region.

 

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Here’s a drought summary for other parts of the country provided by: Anthony Artusa, Climate Prediction Center/NCEP/NWS/NOAA:

 

The Midwest/Northern Plains:

A band of heavy precipitation (2 inches or greater) was observed from north-central Iowa into southern Wisconsin. Widespread moderate precipitation (0.5 to 2 inches) was observed across most of the remainder of Iowa, Wisconsin, and southern Minnesota.

In eastern South Dakota, D0 conditions were removed from the counties of Sanborn, Miner, and Hanson, which is consistent with the recent precipitation. Elsewhere, in central South Dakota, lingering D0 conditions were removed, while in the drier western portion of the state, the D1 region was expanded and connected to the D1 area in western North Dakota.

In west-central Illinois, little rainfall resulted in the merging of the D0 area with neighboring southeastern Iowa, and D0 was expanded across several counties in the southeastern corner of Iowa. These expansions of abnormal dryness (D0) are supported by 60- day and 90-day DNP.

In northwest Missouri, recent dryness has been especially pronounced around the Kansas City area, extending into neighboring parts of eastern Kansas. Pending what rainfall occurs this week, D0 may need to be introduced next week. The same is true for portions of the Missouri Boot-heel, where less than 1-inch of rain has fallen so far this month. If this dryness persists, it will likely impact regional cropland irrigation. Temperatures during the past 7-days have averaged between 2 degrees below normal to 2 degrees above normal across the Corn Belt region.

 

The Northeast and mid-Atlantic:

A significant storm system brought widespread rains (2-4 inches) to coastal areas of the Northeast and mid-Atlantic region early this week, and generally up to a foot of unusually late-season snow across the higher terrain of west-central Pennsylvania, western Maryland, extreme eastern West Virginia, and portions of western New York.

Even higher snowfall accumulations were reported over very localized areas. Towards the Atlantic coast, light to moderate rain fell for a 24-36 hour period, with most of it going right into the dry soils, and not as runoff into streams and rivers. As a result, stream flow gauges showed little rise overall, despite the impressive precipitation amounts.

 

The Southeast:

During the past week, light to moderate rain (less than 2 inches) fell across a large portion of the Southeast, with heavy precipitation (2 inches or greater) observed near the spine of the southern Appalachians, a few locations over the coastal plain, and also over a significant portion of Florida.

Soil moisture conditions improved slightly to 9 percent very short, 39 percent short, 51 percent adequate, and 1 percent surplus. The average temperature for the state during this period was 3 degrees above normal with 6 days suitable for field work. The drought depiction was not altered. Minor trimming of the abnormal dryness (D0) region in northeast Georgia was performed, due to weekly rainfall amounts of 3 or more inches.

The Ohio and Tennessee Valleys:

During the past week, light to moderate rain (less than 2 inches) fell across the region. However, these amounts are not nearly enough to offset short-term deficits and increase the low stream flows.

Central and Southern Plains:

No alterations were made to the drought depiction in Oklahoma this week, while the small sliver of lingering D0 in extreme northwestern Louisiana was eliminated. Notable improvements were made in Texas, especially the Coastal Bend and far southern Texas.

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