Drought Monitor: Widespread Deterioration Across HRW Wheat Belt

By: Julianne Johnston

May  08,  2014

VIP Trial 210x125For the contiguous 48 states, the U.S. Drought Monitor reveals 49.33% of the area is free of drought, which compares to 51.18% last week. Slight drought expansion was reported across southern areas of the Midwest, with widespread drought expansion seen across the Central and Southern Plains.

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The monitor notes, "After seeing some spotty wet stuff last week, virtually the entire region went bone dry, and triple-digit heat was returning to parts of western Oklahoma and the Texas Panhandle regions as of early this week. This is not the recipe for recovery as the calendar pushes toward summer. What winter wheat wasn’t damaged or killed off by recent hard freezes was left to bear the brunt of the heat and dryness this week, with little in the way of relief on the horizon."

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Furthermore, the monitor reports that after good rains last week across parts of the Northern Plains, dryness followed this week across most of eastern South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas, which led to some drought expansion. "A large expansion of D3 now covers nearly the entire southern half of Kansas and D4 is slowly pushing north out of Oklahoma. Soil moisture and groundwater levels are hurting well in front of the peak demand season as the cumulative impacts of such an intense multi-year drought are already glaringly evident, and it’s only early May," warns the monitor.

midwestmay82014.jpgFor the Midwest, the monitor states after some improvement last week for parts of Missouri and Iowa, dryness returned in earnest this past week, bringing some slight expansion of D0-D1 to parts of western and southern Missouri as well as western Iowa. "The dryness has been welcomed for planting activities, but moisture will be needed soon in order to help sustain crops through the coming summer," it states. "The cooler-than-normal temperatures have also been helping offset the seasonal dryness across most of the western reaches of the region. Minnesota continues to slowly recover, and further improvement is noted this week with more removal of D0 in the south-central part of the state."

The National Weather Service's outlook for May 8-13 calls for a system to potentially bring some relief to the Pacific Northwest along with parts of the central Rockies and Front Range. "Heavy precipitation is possible in northeastern Colorado and in the Nebraska Panhandle along with heavier, but spottier, totals expected in a band running north to south from Minnesota, western Iowa, western Missouri, eastern Kansas, eastern Oklahoma, western Arkansas and parts of north-central and southern Texas along with southern Louisiana as well," it predicts. "In addition, above-normal rains appear to be likely for Mississippi and northern Alabama along with the western reaches of the Tennessee Valley, northern Georgia and the extreme western counties in the Carolinas."

The outlook for through May 21 calls for a greater likelihood of above-normal temperatures across the West and below-normal temperatures east of the Mississippi River valley as well as the Great Lakes and Gulf Coast region, including coastal Texas. "As for precipitation, below-normal rainfall is more likely across western Alaska, much of the West (not as likely in the Pacific NW), the central and southern Great Plains and the Mississippi Valley and over into the Southeast as well. Above-normal precipitation is likely only in the Northeast and New England regions, with lower chances stretching south into the northern Mid-Atlantic region," it states.