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Midwest Dryness Intensifies; Plains Drought Sustained

Minimal precipitation, higher temps fuel drought and dryness

Published on: Aug 29, 2013

Higher than normal temperatures coupled with minimal rainfall has kept the Midwest in a "flash drought" late in the summer season, the latest U.S. Drought Monitor reports, while rain the Plains continues to be minimal.

Rapid onset of heat and diminishing soil moisture is taking a toll on Midwestern crops, however, regional waterways are not yet showing much impact. According to the USGS, approximately three-quarters of Midwestern stream flows are close to normal for this time of year, with most of the remainder registering as below-normal, the Drought Monitor reports.

The dryness is in stark contrast to the wet spring many areas of the Midwest experienced; for example, Burlington, Iowa, this year had its wettest spring on record since 1898, with 19.23 inches of precipitation. Burlington is now on track to experience its driest summer on record since 1898, with only 3.86 inches of precipitation so far.

Minimal precipitation, higher temps fuel drought and dryness
Minimal precipitation, higher temps fuel drought and dryness

In the Lower Mississippi Valley, some rivers and streams are suffering, specifically in Louisiana. Though some streamflows are faring better in parts of Mississippi and Arkansas, one-category downgrades were made to the drought depiction in southern Arkansas, western Louisiana, and portions of western and central Mississippi due to USGS streamflow findings.

Portions of the Northern Great Plains are experiencing conditions similar to the Midwest, as temperatures are now beginning to soar as minimal rain falls. That caused one-category downgrades in some of the Dakotas and Nebraska.

Conversely, good rains in August and decent stream flows in extreme southeastern South Dakota have resulted in much better crop conditions than the rest of the region in general, the Drought Monitor reports.

Further south and west, drought depictions in Texas are changing both for the good and the bad. The West, however, experienced several small changes, mostly reducing drought depictions.

In northwestern Arizona, the area of extreme drought in Coconino County was reduced in size, while severe drought improved to moderate drought over much of north-central Arizona, the Drought Monitor said.

Over the weekend, rain is expected across Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin. Temperatures are expected to stay above normal for a few days followed by more seasonal temperatures later.

Next week, above-median rainfall is favored across the Four Corners region, most of the Rockies and Northwest, and the northern High Plains.

Midwest Dryness Intensifies; Plains Drought Sustained