Drought Still Affecting a Large Part of Rural America and the West


Despite recent rainfall in certain parts of farm country, a good chunk of rural America is still dealing with drought. John Baranick, ag meteorologist with DTN, talks about some of the key growing areas still struggling with dry weather.

“It’s scattered throughout the eastern Corn Belt, a little bit. There are small sections in East Central Illinois and West Central Indiana. There’s a little bit in Michigan. There’s a little bit even in northern Wisconsin, although that’s not real farm country. But when you get kind of west of the Mississippi River, it picks up quite a bit. Southern Iowa, southern Missouri, and most of the Plains States from South Dakota down through Texas are all still dealing with drought. The only garden spots really are in eastern Montana and North Dakota west of the Mississippi River.”

The western United States has been in a megadrought for quite some time. Baranick says that part of the country is seeing a small amount of relief.

“They are. So, during the summer months, we actually had a monsoon here in North America, and most people don’t think about it. If you hear monsoon, you’re thinking of Asia, India, with heavy rain constantly, but we actually had one here in the Western States during the summertime. It actually started up a little early this year in June, and it’s been going on ever since. Lately, it’s been moving farther up into the Pacific Northwest to where they’ve been drying out lately after a pretty decent rainfall event through the spring and early summer.”

Despite getting some moisture, the west has a long road to recovering from drought.

“There’s a long way to go and our monsoon here isn’t like it is out in Asia. It’s a lot spottier, but the showers do occur almost on a daily occurrence here, so we’re seeing some drought reduction, definitely over the western states, especially the Southwest over the last few weeks. But it takes until the wintertime for them to get their wet season rolling. They’re still dealing with drought, and if you’ve been paying attention to what’s been going on in the Colorado River, especially, and Lake Mead has got some really interesting pictures with incredibly low water levels, it’s going to take more than just this monsoon to help things out there.”