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Northern Midwest Storms to Abate, Tropical Rains May Reach Missouri

Tropical rain from Pacific may head into southern Midwest.

Localized flooding in parts of southeastern South Dakota, northern Iowa, and southwestern Minnesota is expected to begin easing as the weekend approaches, but rains are on the way to parts of the southern Midwest starting next week.

The northwestern Midwest has received as much as 4 inches of rain with some localized areas getting closer to 6 inches, David Streit, a senior agricultural meteorologist with Commodity Weather Group, told

Rainfall the past couple of days will take some time to dry out and precipitation next week in parts of Oklahoma, Missouri, and possibly southern Illinois likely will slow the U.S. corn harvest.

About 9% of the U.S. corn crop was harvested as of September 16, up from the prior five-year average of 6% for this time of year, the Department of Agriculture said in a report this week.

In Nebraska, about 4% has been collected (up from the average of 2%), South Dakota farmers have only harvested 2%, and Minnesota growers have barely started with only 1% in the bin, according to the USDA.

“The northwest area (of the Midwest) is likely to get a break for five to seven days, so that should help (them dry out) quite a bit,” Streit said. “The only thing I’m worried about is some models that want to bring some (precipitation) back into the area as we get into the 11- to 15-day time frame, but it’s too far out to make much of a judgement on that.”

It usually takes about 10 days for fields to dry down enough to run heavy harvesting equipment, so whether there is a storm in the 11- to 15-day outlook forms is “really important,” he said.

Relief in Drought Conditions

Recent precipitation in parts of the Midwest have helped bring down the overall area in drought since the end of August, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. About 50% of the country was suffering from being abnormally dry or in some sort of drought as of September 18, down from almost 56% on August 28.

About 69% of Missouri, where drought has been the worst of major corn-growing states this year, was suffering from abnormally dry or drought conditions, the monitor said. That was unchanged from the prior week.

Rain is forecast to move up from the Pacific Ocean, through Texas and Oklahoma, into the southern Midwest next week. The front may run out of gas as it moves over Southern states, but there’s still a possibility that up to 2 inches will fall in parts of Missouri, northern Arkansas, and southern Illinois, Streit said.

“Some of this will be tropically derived, from the Pacific, so it can carry some pretty potent rain amounts,” he said. “Most of that is expected to rain out over the Texas-Oklahoma area where they could see 6 inches. It doesn’t look like it’ll carry too much into the Midwest, but there is that risk.”

Precipitation is also expected in the Canadian Plains where spring wheat is grown, Streit said. Snowstorms rolled through last week, and another round is expected this weekend, which could result in as much as 8 inches in some parts of Alberta. That may contribute to some losses due to lodging, he said.

Forecaster Radiant Solutions said in a report on Thursday that rain and snow will favor central and southern Alberta, central and southern Saskatchewan, and Manitoba.

“An upturn in snow in northern and western areas, and rain in southern areas will stall remaining spring wheat harvesting,” said Donald Keeney, a meteorologist with the company.

In the southeastern U.S., meanwhile, flooding will continue as the remnants of Hurricane Florence, which made landfall along the Carolina coast last week, continue to dissipate.

The good news is that floodwaters are abating, and no more precipitation is expected in the next few weeks, which should help the area dry out, he said.

“The worst of it is over, in a relative sense,” Streit said. “I don’t see a strong weather event coming into the area to exacerbate (the ongoing flooding). We see some showers in the next few weeks, but they’ll be limited.”

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