According to the National Drought Monitor, 76% of the contiguous U.S. is covered by some form of drought, compared to just 37% last year at this time. Drought impacts nearly all major Corn Belt regions, although the Upper Midwest has seen relief from drought. The Drought Monitor notes that recent scattered showers across the Midwest were not great enough to make up for the blistering heat, which increases daily moisture needs.
Map of the Midwest shows drought footprint grows:
Drought across the High Plains regions is also expanding:
In its outlook, the monitor notes that July 4 – 8, 2012, doesn’t look promising in terms of relief, though the intense heat should subside somewhat. "One area that could see relief would be from the central and southern Rockies into the northern Plains, much of which is forecast to receive over an inch of rain. Totals near or above 2 inches are expected in the central Dakotas," it notes. "One to perhaps 3 inches are also anticipated along and near the central Gulf Coast. Elsewhere, light rain at best is expected, with little or none forecast for the lower Northeast, the mid-Atlantic region, the upper Southeast, the Ohio Valley, much of the Mississippi Valley, and the central and southern Plains. Seasonably dry weather is expected in the West. Modest improvement is forecast for most areas that have endured the recent heat wave, but most locations from the Plains eastward are still expected to be warmer than normal. Temperatures could average over 6 degrees above normal from the mid-Atlantic region westward through the Tennessee and Ohio Valleys to near the Mississippi River."
The forecast for July 9 – 13, 2012, bring enhanced chances for below-normal rainfall from the Tennessee and middle Mississippi Valleys northward through the Appalachians, Great Lakes, and northern Great Plains. "In contrast, the odds favor above-normal rainfall along and near the southern half of the Atlantic Coast and in the southern halves of the High Plains and Rockies. Below-normal temperatures are expected to settle into the Northeast, but continued above-normal temperatures are anticipated in the southern halves of the Mississippi Valley and eastern Plains, and from the northern Plains, the central Rockies, and the desert Southwest westward to near the Pacific Coast," it states.