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Another week, another drought jump

Jeff Caldwell 08/16/2012 @ 8:56am Multimedia Editor for Agriculture.com and Successful Farming magazine.

As more farmers start preparing to harvest this year's drought-shortened corn crop, the most severe drought conditions grew by leaps and bounds in the central Plains and southern Corn Belt over the last week, according to Thursday's update of the U.S. Drought Monitor.

In the last week, the areas of "exceptional" drought in western Kansas, eastern Missouri, northern Arkansas and the southern tips of Illinois and Indiana all converged into one area of dark red on the Drought Monitor map. Now, the area under the most severe category of drought stretches from eastern Colorado to west-central Indiana.


See how the drought has intensified over the last 6 weeks  



Despite the growth in drought conditions, there have been growing showers in the nation's center over the last few days, and at least in some areas, that's expected to continue, says MDA EarthSat Weather senior ag meteorologist Don Keeney. But, after the next few days, the rainfall tap may be shutting off in some of the driest parts of the Midwest.

"Rains are expected to be abundant across the southern Plains, through the Delta, and into the Southeast this week, so some improvements are likely there. The areas that should see the best improvements should be northeast TX, LA, southern AR, southern

OK, MS, and AL. Some additional slight improvements are also expected across northern IL, northern IN, and MI. Dry conditions this week in the northern Plains and northwestern Midwest will allow dryness there to increase, but rains should return there in the 6-10 day period which should begin to replenish moisture," Keeney said Thursday. "Rains should also continue to ease drought conditions in the southwestern Plains during the 6-10 day period. However, moisture will likely begin to decline again in the central and southern Midwest."

While rainfall may not be a major feature of the weather in the next 2 weeks, a change in temperatures will be, says Freese-Notis Weather ag meteorologist Craig Solberg. Temperatures that were in the 90s earlier this week will be 10 to 15 degrees cooler over the next few days, with some low temperatures approaching records.

"Temperatures for today in the west and for tomorrow to Monday all across the Corn Belt will be the coolest we have seen since last spring. Highs in the 70s will dominate, and I still feel that a few locations in the northwestern Corn Belt can have lows in the upper 30s for tomorrow and possibly even Saturday morning," Solberg said Thursday morning. "Best rains over the next ten days for the Nation will be in the south, for parts of the southern Plains eastward through especially southern parts of the Delta and Southeast. Any rain would be especially beneficial for the southern Plains ahead of the start of winter wheat planting in the fall."

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