Saturday, January 12, 2013

Updating The Plains Drought

Drought continues to remain a huge issue across the Plains.  The most recent drought monitor report was released on Thursday and shows 70% of the country with some level of dry ground condition and around fifty percent of the country in some level of drought.

The most prominent drought areas remain the center of the nation, from Minnesota south through Texas and west to the Rocky Mountains, with exceptional drought conditions dominating much of the Plains.

Hopes were that winter snow and precipitation would help ease some of the drought across the center of the country.  While there is some snow cover from Northern Kansas northeast through Minnesota, it's not much and precipitation this winter across the Plains has been, well, pretty pitiful on the whole.

Rainfall over the past sixty days across the Plains and Midwest remains below normal -- running generally in the 50-75% of average department.  It's a bit better than last summer when rainfall was in the 20% range but it's still a far ways off of normal.

Winter is particularly important for wheat crops in the Plains, which are planted in the Fall and go dormant during the height of the cold season (late December through early March) before resuming growth in the Spring.  Over 30% of Central Kansas' winter wheat crop has failed this season due to the prolonged drought and failure rates over 25% are likely provided rainfall doesn't improve soon.

Unfortunately, weather patterns don't look terribly supportive of significant rains and snows across the Southern or Central Plains for the next several weeks.  A more active storm track this Spring, with the unfortunate byproduct of severe weather, may help put a nice dent in the drought bucket but odds are starting lean strongly in the direction of another summer of Plains drought...and probably heat as well.