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Short-Term Dryness, Drought Creeping Eastward

Moisture deficits take the spotlight off of Southwest and start to refocus attention to Midwest

Published on: Jul 25, 2013

Short-term moisture deficits have the latest U.S. Drought Monitor, released Thursday, showing significant changes from just a week ago.

Hit-or-miss showers appeared in a few places, with 3 inches of rain in Michigan, Illinois and Iowa, and 5 inches around Kansas and Northeast Oklahoma.

The rain, however, wasn't enough to slow the expansion of short-term dryness, which has taken over much of Iowa, Missouri, Mississippi and Louisiana.

USDA meteorologist Brad Rippey said that could have an impact on pollination, even though the temperatures are beginning to rebound from a very hot pattern.

"For parts of the Midwest, we haven't quite made up the short-term rainfall deficits that have accumulated over the last 30-45 days and that has been a bit of concern for the summer crops entering reproduction," he said.

Temperatures look to be favorable for corn entering pollination, but moisture is needed in many areas.
Temperatures look to be favorable for corn entering pollination, but moisture is needed in many areas.

However, he projects that temperatures will remain cooler into next week, aiding crops.

Along the edge of the "drought line," Arkansas continues to see a combination of short-term dryness and moderate drought, a much different picture when compared to several weeks ago as a very clear line of demarcation split the U.S. in half.

Short-Term Drought Creeping Back Into East

According to the USDA, 64% of the topsoil was rated short or very short of moisture in Arkansas with 24% of the pasture and rangeland in poor or very poor condition as of July 21. Missouri had 60% of the topsoil short or very short of moisture and Iowa had 57% so rated, which was a jump of 22% since last week.

The Southwest and western half of the U.S. continues in a much more severe drought pattern, centered on New Mexico, western Nebraska and eastern Colorado.

In Nebraska and Kansas, 70-71% of the soil moisture is rated short or very short, and the 12-month precipitation deficit is 10 inches or more. Topsoil is also short or very short of moisture for 62% of Wyoming and 47% of Montana, jumps of 14% and 10%, respectively, from last week.

Rain is expected over parts of the Plains within the next couple of days, Rippey said. Northern Oklahoma and southern Kansas on eastward to the northern Mississippi Delta will see about 2-5 inches, he added.

California is immersed in severe drought from top to bottom, just west of an extreme pocket of drought in Nevada.

Pasture conditions in the area continue to suffer, coming in at 95% poor to very poor, compared to 28% overall for the entire country.

Looking ahead, half an inch or more of precipitation is forecast from the Plains to the East Coast, except for the Ohio and Tennessee valleys and southern Texas, where very little rain will fall, according to the Drought Monitor.

An inch or more may fall from the western Great Lakes to Nebraska, and from Arkansas to Mississippi, bringing relief to the newly expanded abnormally dry areas, as well as from Florida to the Mid-Atlantic coastal areas.  The heaviest rains are forecast for parts of Kansas and Oklahoma.

For more, check out the U.S. Drought Monitor site.