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Feast or famine: Deepening drought in the Corn Belt but flooding in the South

Drought is deepening across many key areas of the Corn Belt with the U.S. Drought Monitor, released June 10, 2021.

Hot and dry will be the theme for the week ending June 17 across much of the western U.S. and the Great Plains, according to data from WeatherTrends360.

Temperatures will reach the triple digits across portions of the West and Southern Plains with widespread temperatures in the 90s (°F.) across the Northern Plains. Any soil moisture gained from last week’s round of showers and thunderstorms in the Northern Plains will quickly be depleted under hot conditions. For the Corn Belt as a whole, the mid-June 2021 period is forecast to be the fifth warmest in 30-plus years. The eastern Corn Belt will be spared the extreme heat as temperatures trend closer to normal for this area.

Drought is deepening across many key areas of the Corn Belt with the U.S. Drought Monitor, released June 10, 2021, indicating an intensification in drought conditions from the eastern Dakotas and Nebraska eastward to Michigan and northern Indiana and Illinois. In Iowa, nearly 89% of the state is now in some level of abnormal dryness or drought. The outlook for precipitation is bleak, according to WeatherTrends360, and the week-ending June 17 is forecast to be the third driest in over 30 years for the Corn Belt. Hot weather in this week will accelerate drying conditions across portions of the western and central Corn Belt.

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While the Northern Plains struggle with abnormal dryness, the story has been quite different across the Southern Plains. In Arkansas, heavy rain and flooding through the first 10 days of June have left fields of cotton, peanuts, corn, rice, and soybeans underwater, particularly in the southern and eastern portions of the state. Early estimates from the Arkansas Farm Bureau suggest that losses in revenue to agriculture could reach $310 million due to the flooding. There may be a brief break in the excessive precipitation in mid-June, but as we look toward the second half of June, more trouble could be on the horizon.

WeatherTrends360 is monitoring the potential for a tropical system in the Gulf of Mexico by the third weekend of June 2021. While it’s too early to pinpoint the exact track or intensity of the storm, as with any tropical system, the influx of tropical moisture will raise flooding concerns, especially across an already saturated Gulf Coast. Several months ago WeatherTrends360 issued its 2021 Atlantic Hurricane Season forecast, which calls for a more active than normal season.

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