Drought Worsens But Scattered Relief is on the Way
Editor’s Note: The U.S. Department of Agriculture issued its weekly Drought Monitor today (July 12). Highlights of that report follow.
Weather Summary: Rainfall was more abundant than last week. A broken pattern of moderate to locally heavy rains (isolated totals up to 5 inches) covered the central and southern Plains, the northernmost Plains and Great Lakes region, the immediate Ohio Valley, and a good chunk of the Southeast and interior mid-Atlantic.
However, the heavier amounts were fairly isolated, and with the hot weather that covered much of the central and eastern United States, only a few scattered areas of dryness and drought experienced significant improvement.
In addition, the areas with the greatest temperature anomalies (average daily maxima 10 to 13 degrees above normal) generally coincided with an area of scant rainfall across the Midwest, northwestern Ohio Valley, and southern Great Plains, resulting in another week of widespread deterioration and expansion of dryness and drought in these regions.
In the hottest areas last week, which were generally dry, crop conditions deteriorated quickly. In the 18 primary corn-growing states, 30 percent of the crop is now in poor or very poor condition, up from 22 percent the previous week. In addition, fully half of the nation’s pastures and ranges are in poor or very poor condition, up from 28 percent in mid-June. The hot, dry conditions have also allowed for a dramatic increase in wildfire activity since mid-June. During the past 3 weeks, the year-to-date acreage burned by wildfires increased from 1.1 million to 3.1 million as of this writing.
Looking Ahead: Moderate to heavy rain could be on tap for at least part of the areas covered by dryness and drought during July 11-16, 2012. More than an inch is forecast across a large swath from southern and eastern Texas eastward across the Gulf Coast and Florida, and northeastward through the lower Mississippi, Ohio, and Tennessee Valleys, the central and southern Appalachians, and much of the south Atlantic states north of central Georgia.
Three to five inches are possible in southeastern Texas and adjacent Louisiana, across the upper Southeast, in the lower Ohio Valley, and the Tennessee Valley as far east as the Appalachian foothills.
Moderate rain (0.5 to 1.0 inch) is forecast for the mid-Atlantic, lower Northeast, part of the northern Plains, and a few spots in the central and southern Rockies.
Light rain should prevail in other dry areas, except in the southwestern Great Lakes region, the middle Mississippi Valley, and the central and south-central Plains, where little or none is anticipated. Temperatures should continue their moderating trend, with somewhat above-normal readings confined to the Northeast, the northern Rockies and Intermountain West, and the northern half of the High Plains.
For the ensuing 5 days (July 17-21, 2012), the odds favor above normal rain from the upper Mississippi Valley southeastward to the South Carolina Coast and eastward through lower New England. Southeastern Texas and the southeastern Rockies also have enhanced chances for above normal rainfall. In contrast, the northern Rockies are expected to measure sub-normal rainfall totals, as are areas from western Utah and Arizona westward through California.