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Rains help improve Midwest drought picture

Cooler temperatures ahead for Holiday weekend.

This week's rains in the Midwest led to large-scale improvements on the drought monitor map, while the Northwest conditions intensify.

This week’s U.S. Drought Monitor, updated Thursday, shows drought conditions spreading in the Northwest following a record-setting heatwave that was coupled with another week of dry weather, according to the U.S. Drought Center.

The rains eroded southern and eastern drought areas over the past week, but left the core drought in tact, the Drought Center stated Thursday.

"A stalled frontal boundary brought widespread, heavy rain (3 to 10-plus inches) and flash flooding to parts of the lower Midwest. The excess moisture led to a general one-category improvement to drought conditions as short-term rainfall deficits decreased and streamflow and soil moisture improved. In the Upper Midwest, which mostly missed out on the heaviest rain, drought remains a concern. In Minnesota, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports as of June 27, that 75% of the state’s topsoil moisture is short to very short, meaning that it’s significantly less than what is required for normal plant development. While crops can still improve with additional rain, the damage has already been done to pastures. Abnormal dryness (D0) expanded in Minnesota and moderate drought (D1) expanded in northern Illinois," the Drought Monitor summary stated.

Roughly 93% of spring wheat production is within an area experiencing drought.

Nearly 33% of soybean production is within an area experiencing drought.

As a percentage, drought coverage across the U.S. and Puerto Rico remained similar to last week (39.5%), but coverage areas changed in over 30 states. Over 81 million people live in areas affected by drought, down from about 92 million last week, according to the U.S. Drought Center.

5-Day Weather Outlook

David Tolleris, WxRisk.com, says that the forecast has not really changed for the next five-day outlook. 

"The current cold front in the Midwest is finally beginning to move out of the Midwest-- and it will push to the SE bringing showers and storms to the Middle Atlantic, the Tennessee Valley, and in the Deep South. 

He added, "For the U.S. holiday weekend a high pressure will be over the western Great Lakes bringing in pleasant July temperatures with dry conditions for the upper Plains and most of the Midwest."

6-10 Day Weather Outlook

The main difference in the 6-10 day Midwest forecast is the development of a trough in the jet stream that shows up very strongly as a major feature on the Canadian and the European models. 

"However, the trough is much more shallow on the operational GFS model. So, it has less rain," Tolleris says.

11-15 Day Outlook

Early in the 11-15 day outlook there will be another deep trough along the East coast which will keep the heat ridge centered over the Southwest and the southern Rockies. 

"Some of this heat may make its way into the Plains during this timeframe. But, once again it is the placement and the position of a fairly strong trough in the jet stream across the eastern third of the country which will keep the heat ridge situated well to the West. So, the only heat will be the Plains and it will not have an in impact in the Midwest," Tolleris stated in a Thursday forecast.

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