Midwest Drought Increases in Intensity

September 5, 2013 02:38 AM



According to the National Drought Monitor, while the area of the Midwest impacted by drought is little changed from the previous week, the drought has increased in intensity. According to the monitor, 48.5% of the Midwest is impacted by some form of drought, with 28.8% now in "moderate" drought (25% last week) and 7% is in "severe" drought (3.7% last week).

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Regarding Midwest conditions, the monitor reminds: "Well-above-normal temperatures (6 to 10 degF), continued lack of rain, and record to near-record low August rainfall in some areas has led to rapidly declining topsoil moisture conditions in parts of the Midwest. After such an ideal start to the growing season (March-June; polar opposite compared to last year), the past two months have been much drier than usual, with temperatures slowly increasing."

It adds, "The region from the eastern Dakotas southeastward into western Illinois (and slowly creeping eastward) has gone from nothing (not even D0) to D1-D2 since mid- to late July, aided by 25-50% of normal rainfall. Some portions in central Iowa and northern Missouri have measured between 5-25% of normal, with some stations in the latter area recording under 0.1" of rain during August. In Iowa, the state recorded its warmest week since July 2012, with highs topping 104F at Des Moines and Fort Madison on August 30. Statewide August rainfall ranked seventh driest among 141 years of records, and followed the ninth driest July. Many Iowa stations set new August records for dryness (Keokuk and Mount Pleasant 0; Burlington and Fort Madison Trace; Jefferson 0.04 in; Centerville 0.1 in; Iowa City 0.13 in; Marshalltown 0.17 in)."

"As a result, D2 expanded or was added in southern Iowa, western Illinois, and northern Missouri, in western Wisconsin, and central Minnesota. D1 increased into southwestern Wisconsin and central Illinois, with D0 added to parts of Indiana and southern Wisconsin. A few areas, however, received over 2 inches of rain, and some improvement was made – northeastern Minnesota, northern Wisconsin, northern Illinois, and southern Indiana," states the monitor.

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In its outlook for September 4-9, it expects rainfall along the borders of the contiguous U.S., namely in the Northwest, the Great Lakes region into New England, along the Gulf Coast (Texas to Florida) and in the Southwest. "Unseasonable warmth is predicted for much of the country, but especially in the North-Central States. For the ensuing 5 days (September 10-14), odds for above normal precipitation are greatest in the Southwest, Great Lakes region, Appalachians, and southeastern Alaska. Subnormal rainfall probabilities are highest in the Northwest, southern Plains and lower Mississippi Valley, coastal New England, and western Alaska. Temperatures are expected to be above normal in the western two-thirds of the U.S., Southeast, and southeastern Alaska," it predicts.

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