Extreme drought conditions possible into August
Much of the western half of Iowa has been suffering severe drought conditions through July, and August won’t bring much relief, say meteorologists.
According to U.S. Drought Monitor maps, over half the state is now experiencing abnormally dry conditions with nearly 13% suffering from category 2, severe drought. “These severe drought areas could see the next phase of extreme drought into August,” says Dennis Todey, USDA Midwest Climate Hub director. “We’re reevaluating each week. Some areas in the Carroll and Crawford Counties that are experiencing the brunt of it saw some rain this week. It’s not enough to wipe out the drought but helps the situation in some of these worse areas.”
Eastern Indiana, part of Ohio, and parts of southern Michigan are also experiencing drought conditions. Todey reports that soils have dried out and farmers in the area are starting to see crop stress and the most reports of damaged corn from drought with western Iowa seeing the worst.
“We’re going to start shifting to see impacts more on soybeans,” says Todey. “If we see quite a decent amount of precipitation in these dry areas, soybeans could bounce back. I’ve seen images from west-central Iowa where soybeans are in really bad shape that may respond some but have seen quite a bit of drought damage.”
Illinois, Wisconsin, western Indiana, Minnesota, and into the Dakotas are starting to recover from dry conditions after some rainfall this week. Kansas, Missouri, and southern Illinois have also seen helpful rains this week.
“There is a chance of some thunderstorms in parts of Iowa later Sunday, but it won’t bring heavy amounts of rainfall,” said Accuweather agricultural meteorologist Dale Mohler. “To get out of the drought, you’d like to see a stalled front to get multiple chances of rain and this front doesn’t look likely.”
August to bring cooler temperatures
Although more precipitation in August isn’t likely for the severe drought conditions, temperatures will be cooling down across the state, helping to decrease already stressed crops.
“Conditions will continue to be dry, but we won’t see as much humidity,” says Todey. As we get into the second week of August, we start seeing some better chances for precipitation. We don’t see big rain chances coming to help the driest areas but most likely spotty rain chances similar to what we saw in July. However, we still have large areas that won’t get as much rain and are going to see the impacts continue.”
Early next week there’s a five-day stretch when it will be 6°F. to 8°F. below normal with daytime highs near 80s and nighttime lows in the upper 50s and lower 60s.
Low chances of an early frost, but wet October
Mohler expects the eastern part of the Corn Belt to have near normal rainfall throughout August. West of the Mississippi River will be somewhat variable in precipitation with close to normal to below normal.
“While we see the extreme heat really over, we do see early fall trending on the warmer side meaning the risk of an early frost is unlikely,” says Mohler. “The only concern we are seeing is some wet weather across the Midwest throughout October, but nothing that far out of the ordinary. Overall, farmers are looking to approach harvesttime in really good shape.”