Drought Monitor: Dryness intensifies over most of the country
July 6, 2012 10:00 AM
Weather Summary: Overall, this week featured the expansion and intensification of dryness in large sections of the country, with only southern Texas reporting some improvement. Light precipitation (0.5 inch or less) fell on most areas of dryness and drought, with only scattered areas reporting more than an inch, primarily in the northern Plains, lower Mississippi Valley, southernmost Great Lakes region, Appalachians, mid-Atlantic region, and southern Texas. This despite a couple of thunderstorm complexes that pushed rapidly from northern Illinois east-southeastward through the mid-Atlantic, including one on June 29 that caused significant damage, knocked out power for millions of customers, and took 2 dozen lives. Unfortunately, where rain did fall (outside southern Texas), it was not enough to make up for blistering heat that covered the Nation’s midsection, reaching the central and southern Atlantic Coast by the end of the workweek. Both the number of record highs in the past week, and the areas with record and near-record dryness over the last 1 to 3 months, are too numerous to mention. Daily high temperatures averaged above 100 degrees in the central and upper southern Plains, extending eastward into parts of Missouri and Arkansas, and average temperatures for the week were 8 to locally 15 degrees above normal from the Ohio Valley and upper Southeast westward through most of the High Plains. The dryness is beginning to take a significant toll on some of the Nation’s crops, pastures, and rangelands. In the primary growing states for corn and soybeans (18 each), 22 percent of the crop is in poor or very poor condition, as are 43 percent of the Nation’s pastures and rangelands and 24 percent of the sorghum crop. In addition, the area scorched by wildfires expanded significantly. Over 1.9 million acres have been engulfed since the start of the year, and increase of 38 percent in just the past week.
The Northeast and Mid-Atlantic: Despite a couple of thunderstorm complexes that brought light to locally moderate rain to parts of the region, the late-period hot weather across the mid-Atlantic and a return to dry weather over the last couple of weeks allowed D0 conditions to expand through much of this region, with a few patches of moderate drought showing up. Farther north, there was some limited expansion of D0 and, in western Pennsylvania, D1 conditions.
The Tennessee Valley, Southeast, Deep South, and lower Ohio Valley: Brutal heat and only light to locally moderate rain engendered a broad expansion and intensification of dryness and drought. Most of this region recorded less than half of normal precipitation during the last 30 days, with under 25 percent of normal falling on the lower Ohio Valley, much of Kentucky and northern Tennessee. Indiana, Missouri, Kentucky, and Tennessee each have 45 to 50 percent of their corn crop in poor or very poor condition as well as 34 to 49 percent of soybeans.