Drought Intensifies Across the Central and Southern Plains

Posted on 01/18/2018 11:30 AM

Kansas and Oklahoma already had 100% of its area covered by some form of drought heading into a mostly dry week. Kansas now has 19.2% covered by severe (D2) drought, up two percentage points from last week, with 4.1% now covered by extreme (D3) drought, up 1.5 points from the previous week. The further south you travel in the state, the more intense the drought becomes.

In Oklahoma, the most intense drought conditions are in the Panhandle, with D3 now covering 12.1% of the state, a gain of five percentage points from last week. Drought also grew and intensified in Texas, with 79.2% of the state covered by some form of drought, an increase of 6.2 percentage points from last week. In Texas, 14.2% is covered by D2, which is a four-point gain from last week, with 2% covered by D3, which compares to just 0.4% last week.

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Drought was also introduced into southern Wisconsin. Overall, drought covers 34.1% of the Midwest, a gain of about four percentage points from last week. Iowa has 74.3% covered by some form of drought, an increase of about three points from last week. Illinois has 55% of its area covered by some form of drought, an increase of about 6.4 points from last week.

As it currently stands, the Midwest is at risk of entering the planting season without a full soil moisture profile. Last year at this time, just 17.1% of the area was covered by some form of drought. “The continued dryness over the last three months allowed for expansion of abnormally dry conditions over more of eastern Iowa, southern Wisconsin and northern and central Illinois,” notes the monitor. “The frozen winter environment has allowed for these changes to take place at a slower pace compared to other times of the year.”

The extended outlook from the National Weather Service isn’t promising for drought relief in the Central and Southern Plains. The forecast issued this morning for February through April calls for above-normal temps and below-normal precip for much of the HRW Wheat Belt. Meanwhile, cooler temps are expected across the Corn Belt, with above-normal precip expected from eastern Iowa throughout the eastern Corn Belt and much of the northern Midwest.

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