Variety of Weather Conditions Continue to Plague U.S.

Flooding and drought are the big issues.

Published on: Jun 24, 2011

Many regions of the country are dealing with weather-related problems. From wildfires to flooding to drought producers in several parts of the U.S. are dealing with damage to acres.

In the Midwest the Missouri River continues to engulf the land around it and USDA Meteorologist Brad Rippey says a slow moving storm system in the Missouri Valley has already caused heavy rains. He says that has brought more saturation to the ground and increased the river's levels.

"No matter how you look at it we've got a serious situation that is going to last the entire summer in the Missouri Valley," Rippey said. "We do expect significant flooding to develop all the way downstream from Omaha on down to where it enters the Mississippi at St. Louis."

Rippey says the system will clear the U.S. and transition into a quieter weather pattern next week. That may be good news for the Midwest and Eastern regions, but he says the fact that it will come with building heat isn't good news for the South.

Texas is the largest cotton producing state in the U.S. and over half of its cotton crop is in poor to very poor condition. Rippey says the drought continues to batter the three major cotton areas ot the High Plains, Coastal Bed region and Deep South, which have received little to no drought relief. He says it doesn't look like that will change as another ridge of high pressure is expected to build that will cause temperatures to reach into triple digits.

Even though the outlook for Texas cotton is quite bleak, Rippey says there are signs of relief coming for the Southeast.

"There's a bit of a weakness in the ridge of high pressure along the East Coast," Rippey said. "That should allow tropical moisture to begin to overspread parts of the Southeast by the end of June or early July. That could bring appreciable drought relief to places like Alabama and Georgia as well as the Carolinas and Florida where we've been trending very dry."

More than a third of the cotton crop is rated in very poor to poor condition in states like Alabama and Georgia and Rippey says the tropical moisture should help those conditions in the Southeast. It could also help with the wildfires in Georgia. Usually states like Florida experience wildfires at this time during the summer, but Rippey says Florida's spring rainfall helped immensely. Georgia hasn't been so lucky, with one fire having burned over 250,000 acres. However most of that has been in wilderness areas, so it has not received the press coverage that fires in the Southwest have, including the active wildfires in Arizona and New Mexico

"More than 850,000 acres has been charred by those fires," Rippey said. "If you look at the six largest fires across Arizona and New Mexico, they have burned a combined 205 structures; not necessarily homes but also outbuildings, cabins and so forth."

Over 4.5 million acres across the U.S. have burned so far. Rippey says wildfire threats will not go away as long as drought conditions remain. He says the first climatological sign of relief is still a few weeks away when the monsoon season arrives in early July.