Drought Monitor: Precip Helps Recharge Midwest Topsoil Moisture

November 15, 2012 01:51 AM
 

According to the National Drought Monitor, A Pacific storm system and associated cold front slowly tracked across the lower 48 states during the week, producing welcome and beneficial precipitation to portions of the Northwest, Rockies, Great Plains, Midwest and lower Mississippi Valley. As the system moved into the nation’s midsection, Gulf moisture was tapped, producing swaths of moderate to heavy showers (more than an inch) from central Kansas northeastward into the upper peninsula of Michigan, and from northeastern Texas northeastward into southern Indiana and central Kentucky.

11 15 15 DrMon

Unfortunately, some parts of the country, namely the Southwest, southern and north-central Plains, and the eastern Gulf and southern Atlantic Coast States, missed the bulk of the precipitation and conditions persisted or worsened. Temperatures averaged below normal in the West and East, with above-normal readings in the southern and central Plains into the upper Midwest.

This resulted in a mixed bag in respect to drought in the Southern Plains and Delta region. Southern areas of this region were dry while northern and eastern areas saw 1 to 2 inches of rain. Texas was mostly dry this week which resulted in a general half category deterioration for most of the state with D0 expanding into southwest Louisiana.

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But the monitor continues, "In contrast, most of Oklahoma (minus the Panhandle), Arkansas, and western Tennessee measured widespread decent precipitation, with a band of 1.5 to 2.5 inches falling from northeastern Texas northeastward into central Tennessee. Accordingly, 1-category improvements were made where the heaviest rain swath occurred." The monitor continues to explain that while rains in Oklahoma were welcome, strong winds and unseasonable warmth ahead of the cold front further stressed winter wheat and pastures.

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Farther north, widespread, welcome rains (1 to 1.5 inches) fell from central Kansas northeastward into the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, while another 1 to 1.5 inch swath fell from southern Missouri northeastward into central Illinois and Indiana. Elsewhere in the Midwest, generally 0.5 to 1 inch of rain was reported. "The exceptions included western Kansas, western two-thirds of Nebraska, most of South Dakota, southern North Dakota, and western Minnesota (less than 0.5 inches)," according to the Drought Monitor.

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With little runoff, minimal or no evaporation and crop uptake, lower temperatures and unfrozen ground, this precipitation was especially beneficial as much of it went into recharging the deficient topsoil (and hopefully the subsoil) moisture, the monitor explains. "Accordingly, some 1-category improvements were made in central and northeastern Kansas (D4 to D3 central; D3 to D2 northeast), Missouri (D3 to D2 northwest; D2 to D1 west and south), Iowa (D3 to D2 west-central; D2 to D1 east), Wisconsin (D2 and D1 improvements in south and west-central; D0 to nothing in central), eastern South Dakota (D3 to D2), western Kentucky (some D0-D2 reductions), and Illinois (D1 to D0 west-central; D0 to nothing central and southern)," the monitor elaborates.

In northern North Dakota, the precipitation fell as heavy snow (8 to 18 inches) which led to a one-category modification there. "No changes were made in Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, and Minnesota as the rainfall totals were less than in aforementioned areas. In contrast, recent dryness in north-central South Dakota increased the D2 (D1 reduction)," the monitor elaborates.

Although this week’s precipitation was welcome and beneficial, there are still long-term hydrologic drought impacts (streams, rivers, ponds, lakes) that need to recover. Continued precipitation during the non-growing season will be key for adequate moisture for next year’s Midwest and Plains crops and pastures, and for reducing hydrological drought impacts, according to the Drought Monitor.

During the next five days (Nov. 15-19), a relatively tranquil weather pattern will envelop the nation’s midsection. "Another Nor’easter is expected to develop and affect the southern and middle Atlantic Coast states later in the period, while another Pacific storm system impacts the western quarter of the U.S., possibly reaching the Rockies by Sunday or Monday," the monitor explains. But in between the two systems, little or no precipitation is expected to fall. "Temperatures are forecast to average above normal from the Intermountain West eastward into the upper Midwest and the southern Plains. Subnormal readings are expected in the southern Atlantic Coast States and along the California Coast," the Drought Monitor continues.


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