Extreme Drought Retreats in Southwest

Drought monitor shows significant retreat of extreme drought in Southwest and Southern Plains; dryness expands in Midwest

Published on: Sep 19, 2013

Drought and dryness continues to expand in the Midwest this week, while significant rains have eradicated much of the extreme dryness in the Southern Plains and Southwest.

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, the expanding Midwestern dryness and drought conditions are the result of limited rainfall and higher temperatures. While locally heavy rains of 1.5 to 3 inches fell across west-central Minnesota and moderate rains appeared in western Illinois, it was not enough to significantly affect the 90-day deficits.

The Monitor's David Miskus reports that after a relatively wet spring, the summer was ranked as the 13th, 32nd, and 36th driest in the last 119 years for Iowa, Minnesota, and Illinois, respectively, according to the National Climatic Data Center.

Drought monitor shows significant retreat of extreme drought in Southwest and Southern Plains; dryness expands in Midwest
Drought monitor shows significant retreat of extreme drought in Southwest and Southern Plains; dryness expands in Midwest

The recent Midwestern heat coupled with summer dryness to put a dent in potential crop yields, even though it accelerated the denting and maturity stages of corn to values well above the 5-year averages.

Corn and soybean crop conditions rated good to excellent fell from early July highs of 68 and 67% to 56 and 54% by Sept. 1, respectively, according to NASS/USDA.

While southern Missouri, northern Arkansas and Kentucky remain drought and dryness free, a line of dryness stretching across the Delta continues to creep northward.

The region has missed out on any significant rainfall, causing precipitation to be under 25% of normal for the past 30 days. The drier weather is also moving eastward.

Significant changes were recorded across the Plains states and in the Southwest, where significant drought kicked off the summer months. The monsoon season, however, has been beneficial to New Mexico this week, where extreme to exceptional drought is on its way to eradication.

Colorado, however, may have seen too much of a good thing – more than 18 inches of rain fell locally over Boulder, Colo., last week, producing severe flash flooding and destruction of roads and bridges. In some cases, 2-3 category improvements were recommended as some regions received more than 3 inches of rain – that's approximately 20% of the normal annual total at many locations.

One-category improvements were made in Arizona, Utah, Wyoming, and south-central Montana where 2-4 inches of rain diminished long-term deficits.

The Western region of the U.S. remains relatively unchanged according to the Drought Monitor. Warm, dry weather continues across much of California, with small exceptions. In Nevada, drought declarations continued for most of the state as irrigation restrictions and lack of grazing land has farmers and ranchers in a bind.

Over the next few days, showers are expected in the Plains and eastward to the Atlantic Coast. The Great Lakes region is also expected to see showers.

Extreme Drought Retreats in Southwest