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Major Drought Reductions for the Upper Midwest

May 30, 2013
By: Meghan Pedersen, Pro Farmer Associate Editor

According to the National Drought Monitor, major reductions in the coverage of dryness and drought occurred again in the Upper Midwest. The region is now 89.83% drought-free, compared to 80.68% last week and 28.14% at the start of the year. But while heavy rain was good for eradicating or easing drought in the region, it also led to flooding. In Minnesota, 59.82% of the state is now drought-free, compared with just 19.96% last week. Iowa saw a 16.58 percentage point reduction in drought coverage last week; 81.08% of the state is now drought-free.

05 30 13 Midwest

The Monitor says minor to moderate flooding is underway at nearly 100 river gauges in the western Corn Belt, with major flooding occurring in a few locations. "For example, the Skunk River near Sigourney, Iowa, crested 9.93 feet above flood stage on May 28, surpassing the March 1960 high-water mark by a little over seven inches. Similarly, the Little Sioux River at Correctionville, Iowa, climbed 6.27 feet above flood stage on May 28, the third-highest crest in that location behind 10.34 feet in June 1891 and 6.86 feet in April 1965," the Drought Monitor details. The Monitor continues, "In Minnesota, Rochester’s record-setting precipitation totals for May and March to May reached 9.52 and 19.16 inches, respectively. Rochester’s previous records had been 8.41 inches in May 1982 and 15.87 inches in the spring of 2001."

Flooding is also occurring in areas of northern North Dakota. "In Grafton, North Dakota, the Park River (4.20 feet above flood stage on May 23) rose to its highest level since April 1950, when the river crested 4.52 feet above flood stage," according to the Drought Monitor.

The heaviest precip (locally 4 inches or more) during this drought monitoring period cut across southeastern South Dakota and northwestern Iowa. This resulted in some locations seeing a two-category reduction from severe drought (D2) to lingering subsoil moisture shortages (D0).

In its outlook for May 30 to June 3, the monitor says an active weather pattern will cover the nation’s mid-section. A slow-moving storm is expected to drift northward into the Dakotas on May 30, then slide eastward into the Great Lakes region by June 1. "Along the storm’s trailing cold front, a multiday severe weather outbreak can be expected across portions of the Plains, Midwest and Mid-South. The cold front should reach the Atlantic Seaboard in early June," the Monitor details. Additional rainfall amounts over the next five days could reach 1 to 3 inches on the Northern Plains and 2 to 6 inches from the east-central Plains into the lower Great Lakes region, including the middle Mississippi Valley. In contrast, the Monitor says mostly dry weather will prevail from California into the Southwest and along the southern Atlantic Coast, except for heavy showers in southern Florida. "Hot weather will prevail in advance of the storm, especially across the nation’s northeastern quadrant, while cool conditions will trail the system into the Plains and upper Midwest. By early June, hot weather will develop in the Pacific Coast States," the Monitor explains.


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