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Dryness intensifies in Missouri, Illinois, and Wisconsin, Drought Monitor shows

Minnesota’s dry areas receive relief.

Hefty rains fell across some of the region’s hardest-hit drought areas in Minnesota, resulting in improvements of up to one category in the drought depiction, according to this week’s Drought Monitor report.

For example, northern Minnesota’s area of exceptional drought (D4) was eliminated by well-placed rainfall. On September 20, International Falls, Minnesota, received more than 2.00 inches of rain in a calendar day for the first time since July 17, 2019, according to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor map and report released Thursday morning.

“According to the USDA, Minnesota’s topsoil moisture rated very short to short has dramatically improved in recent weeks, from 84% to 35% between August 15 and September 19. Upper Midwestern rain arrived too late to benefit drought-affected summer crops; on September 19, roughly one-quarter of Minnesota’s primary row crops — 26% of the corn and 25% of the soybeans — were rated in very poor to poor condition, with harvest underway,” the Drought Monitor report stated.

Farther south, however, not all areas received rain through the end of the drought-monitoring period, according to the Drought Monitor. “As a result, dryness and drought intensified in some locations, including parts of Missouri, northern Illinois, southern Wisconsin, and the lower Great Lakes region. On September 19, USDA noted that topsoil moisture was at least one-half very short to short in Indiana and Ohio,” Drought Monitor forecasters stated.

High Plains

Heavy rain clipped some eastern sections of the region, but many areas were dry, or nearly so, during the drought-monitoring period. A surge of heat in advance of a cold front, peaking on September 18, resulted in unusually high temperatures, followed by cooler conditions.

On the 18th, there was a flurry of daily-record highs, including 98°F. in Chadron, Nebraska; and 96°F. in Dickinson, North Dakota.

“Still, drought conditions in many parts of the High Plains have modestly improved in recent weeks. Due to that beneficial rain, exceptional drought (D4) was removed from central North Dakota. A few other areas also noted drought improvements of up to one category, as moisture has generally increased for newly planted winter wheat — and some pastureland has begun to respond. Even with the rain, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that on September 19, topsoil moisture across the region ranged from 41% very short to short in Nebraska to 88% in Wyoming. Some rangeland and pastures continue to reel from drought that appears to have peaked earlier in the year; on September 19, the Dakotas led the region in very poor to poor ratings — 83% in North Dakota and 80% in South Dakota. Wyoming’s rangeland and pastures were rated 71% very poor to poor,” according to the Drought Monitor report.

Looking Ahead

Most of the Midwest will see dry weather during the next five days.

In fact, any precipitation west of the Mississippi Valley should be limited to showers in the Desert Southwest and Pacific Northwest. From the Pacific Coast to the Plains, summer-like warmth will accompany the mostly dry conditions.

“The NWS 6- to 10-day outlook for September 28 – October 2 calls for the likelihood of near- or above-normal temperatures nationwide, except for cooler-than-normal conditions in the Pacific Coast States and the western Great Basin. Meanwhile, below-normal rainfall in most areas from the Mississippi Valley to the East Coast should contrast with wetter-than-normal weather in other areas, including northern California, the Northwest, the Intermountain West, and the central and southern High Plains,” the Drought Monitor forecasters stated in Thursday’s release.

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