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Drought Monitor Reflects Slight Improvement Across Midwest

March 14, 2013
By: Julianne Johnston, Pro Farmer Digital Managing Editor

According to the National Drought Monitor, 36.43% of the contiguous U.S. is drought-free, which reflects minor improvement from 34.33% last week. Across the Midwest, the monitor notes that about half of the region is now drought-free, which is about a five percentage point improvement from last week. It notes that while widespread precip was seen in the Midwest, frozen soils prevented deep soil moisture recharge.

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Specifically for the Midwest, the monitor notes, "Areas with above-normal rainfall over the past 30-days were targeted for improvement, but some D0 was retained due to longer term soil moisture deficits that reflect long-term drought reaching back to last summer... Despite significant rains (0.5 – 3.0 inches), only minor improvements were also pursued over Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. According to some local National Weather Service employees and state climatologists, the frozen ground (10-20 inches of frozen soils) is preventing deep soil moisture recharge. Streams and rivers rose and fell rapidly, indicting excessive runoff and lack of penetration, along with some reports of basement flooding as the water cannot go into the soil. A nearly one-category improvement across Missouri and Iowa was prompted by widespread rains (0.5 – 2.5 inches). The improvements were not a full one-category as some areas of northwest and north-central Missouri did not experience as significant of a soil moisture recovery as points farther east and south, where soils had thawed earlier in the year."

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