Despite precipitation this week, the Corn Belt sees little change in drought conditions
A warmer-than-average December across much of the Corn Belt allowed for above-average precipitation totals to be banked into the subsoil moisture profiles. However, until the now-frozen soil thaws and can accept moisture again, there won’t be much additional improvement.
The latest drought monitor was released Thursday. After a week of snow in many areas, there’s little change in drought conditions across the Midwest.
“We won’t see large-scale changes in drought conditions as they are locked-in where soils are frozen; frozen soil cannot allow infiltration of moisture,” says Iowa’s State Climatologist Justin Gilsan.
The ideal pattern for winter precipitation absorption are daytime highs above freezing and overnight lows below freezing. Gilsan says this pattern allows a gradual cycle to occur, so moisture sinks into the soil instead of running off the top.
“We will have to see how the accumulated snowpack will impact late winter and early spring thaws, as a rapid warm-up will not allow soils to thaw and accept melting snowpack,” he says.
In Iowa, drought acreage decreased slightly, according to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor maps. About 12% of the state remains in moderate drought. This area spans about 28 counties in the northeastern part of the state. A majority of counties in the eastern half of the state reported abnormally dry conditions. Overall, about 37% of the state reported suffering from abnormally dry conditions, or worse.
Between December 28 and January 4, some parts of the state saw up to 3 inches of precipitation. The southeast half of the counties reported at least some precipitation in the seven-day period, with the northwest half reporting no precipitation.
Drought conditions in Illinois improved, with 7% more of the state reporting better conditions in this week’s drought maps. Less than 1% of the state in the northeast corner reported severe drought, coming from McHenry and Lake Counties. Severe drought conditions were reported from nine counties across the top of the state, accounting for about 6% of the state. Overall, about 11% of the state reported suffering from abnormally dry conditions, or worse.
Between December 28 and January 4, all of Illinois saw at least some precipitation. The northern half of the state saw mild precipitation, between .5 inch and 1 inch. The southern half of the state saw up to 3 inches of precipitation.
Nebraska saw next to no change in conditions this week. Four counties in the western edge of the state remain in the extreme drought warning with no change from the previous several weeks. Over 81% of the state is abnormally dry or worse.
Between December 28 and January 4, most of Nebraska reported less than .25 inch of rain. Chase County saw just over 2 inches of rain, which slightly raises the state’s average in the seven-day period.
Indiana has remained drought-free this week. The state has not had any dry or drought warnings since October 5.
Between December 28 and January 4, the southern tip of Indiana saw more than 3.5 inches of precipitation. The rest of the state reported an average total of about 1.5 inches.
Overall, the drought acreage in Minnesota showed little change this week. Six counties in the northeast reported severe drought, accounting for 9% of the state. Much of the north and eastern part of the state reports areas of moderate drought, about 29% of the state. Overall, 70% of the state reported abnormally dry conditions, or worse.
Between December 28 and January 4, the northeast corner of Minnesota received more than 10 inches of precipitation. The southwestern corner of the state received no precipitation, but most of the rest of the state received some precipitation, averaging .75 inch in the seven-day period.
The southwestern corner of Kansas saw an uptick of intensity this week, with extreme drought conditions going from less than 1% last week to almost 3% in the state, consisting of seven counties. Moderate conditions have pushed across the western half of the state to cover 38%. Overall, 75% of the state reported abnormally dry conditions, or worse.
Between December 28 and January 4, most of Kansas reported less than .25 inch of precipitation. The eastern edge reported just under over 4 inches in their heaviest totals, with most of the edge reporting between .5 inch and 1.5 inches.
South Dakota saw little change in drought conditions this week. Some 43% of the state had abnormally dry conditions, reported by more than 45 counties. Four counties reported severe drought conditions, accounting for 6% of the state. Overall, 79% of the state reported abnormally dry conditions or worse.
Between December 28 and January 4, most of the state reported almost no precipitation. The eastern part of South Dakota had two sections that received over 1 inch of precipitation in the seven-day period.
Ohio reported no drought conditions this week, an improvement from last week’s .01% abnormally dry conditions. Since January of last year, Ohio has not reported worse than 8% abnormally dry conditions.
Between December 28 and January 4, the east, south, and west tips of Ohio received almost 3 inches of precipitation. Across the rest of the state, most counties received almost 2 inches of precipitation. The northern part of the state received the least precipitation, just under 1 inch in the seven-day period.
Drought acreage in Missouri decreased this week. Four counties in the northeastern edge of the state are reporting moderate drought conditions, accounting for less than 1% of the state. Most of the middle and northern parts of Missouri report abnormally dry conditions. Overall, about 64% of the state reported abnormally dry conditions, or worse.
Between December 28 and January 4, five counties in the center of Missouri received over 5 inches of precipitation, while most of the rest of the state received less than 1 inch. The southeastern tip received over 4 inches of rain, while the northwestern tip received no precipitation over the seven-day period.