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Weather Watchers on the Lookout for Flash Drought | KTIC Radio

Weather Watchers on the Lookout for Flash Drought

Coupled with the higher temperatures, some areas are starting to stand out" in terms of drought developing.

- Brian Fuchs, climatologist at the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Temperature and precipitation conditions in mid-June across the primary crop regions in the United States look similar to the widespread drought year of 2012 when, at the time, there also was little or no concern about drought, a climatologist said Thursday.

The latest drought monitor released Thursday shows small pockets of severe drought in a sliver of western South Dakota and northeastern Wyoming, but virtually nothing else across the Corn Belt.

Brian Fuchs, climatologist at the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, said as temperatures continue to rise heading into the summer months, climatologists are watching closely for signs of flash drought — often brought on by a drop in precipitation and increased temperatures and winds.

“It looks eerily similar to what we saw in 2012 when there was no sign of drought,” Fuchs said. “Right now, we’re not anticipating another 2012.”

From July to September, Fuchs said temperatures across the country are likely to be above normal. When it comes to precipitation, he said there are good opportunities for rain in the Dakotas, Iowa, Missouri and Illinois, along with Ohio and Michigan in the next seven days.

“This time of year, convection precipitation can be hit or miss,” Fuchs said. “With the heat, it’s tough to break the cap (in the upper atmosphere) for convection to take place. If the numbers hold, most areas will see some precipitation.”

Soil profiles across the region have adequate moisture, even in some of the driest areas including Missouri, Ohio, Minnesota and the Dakotas.

In the next eight to 14 days, he said, heat will continue to build in the Southwest and entrench itself in much of the country. There is expected to be normal or equal chances of precipitation during the period.

As of Thursday, he said, 92% of soybeans had been planted with about 79% emerged. Some areas in Kansas and Missouri are a little behind, he said, where there is a bit of double cropping taking place.

Most of the Corn Belt and upper Midwest region have seen temperatures anywhere from 5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit above normal in the past 30 days. Some 100-degree temperatures hit the region staring last week in parts of Nebraska and the Dakotas.

High temperatures in May in areas of the Dakotas and Montana and other northern states were in the all-time top 10, Fuchs said. Temps across the rest of the Corn Belt region were in the top 20 all-time.

In March through May, there has been some wetness in Nebraska, Wyoming and the Dakotas while the eastern grain belt saw near-normal precipitation.

In the past 30 days, there have been pockets of dryness, Fuchs said, in parts of Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri and southern Iowa, with precipitation at less than 25% of normal. For this time of year, many areas are 1.5 to 3 inches below normal.

Fuchs said a handful of heavy rain events have pushed precipitation totals above normal in parts of Nebraska, Kansas and southern Missouri.

On the drought side, he said, areas of central Illinois, western Indiana, Wisconsin and the Dakotas have begun to see signs of evaporative stress. Fuchs said in the past 90 days or so, some areas have seen 50% to 70% of normal rainfall. As a result, there are some pockets where precipitation is some 6 inches to 8 inches below normal.

“Coupled with the higher temperatures, some areas are starting to stand out” in terms of drought developing, he said. That includes southeastern Kansas and parts of Missouri, Indiana and Illinois.

The silver lining is that while some areas are beginning to show signs of drought, “that was coming off a wet December period when there was soil recharge. Even though it is dry, we’re not seeing impacts develop,” Fuchs said.

With precipitation departures in parts of Missouri from 6 inches to 9 inches below normal, along with arriving summer heat, he said climatologists will be keeping close watch on the state.

Temperatures for remainder of 2016 are not encouraging, he said, as the outlook is for most areas of the country to see above-average temps of 2 to 5 degrees. Areas of the upper Midwest, including the Dakotas, Nebraska, Iowa and Minnesota, are “pushing for well above normal so far,” Fuchs said.

“But any stress or dryness is more short term,” he said, and not like drought still persisting on the West Coast.

Todd Neeley can be reached at


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