The U.S. Drought Monitor shows that abnormally-dry weather is once again spreading out into farm country. John Baranick is an agricultural meteorologist with DTN. He says the Drought Monitor shows the dry weather is expanding again.
“Yeah, it sure does. And if you look at the U.S. Drought Monitor map, there’s a lot of color on it, especially if you look west of the Mississippi River, and there are a few spots there that are kind of pockmarked with very little or no drought. But, for the most part, we’ve been seeing it expand quite significantly, especially over the last month. Rainfall in some areas east of the Rockies has been next to nothing. Minneapolis just recorded its driest month in September ever. And then there are areas down in Texas and Oklahoma, in the Ozarks, in Missouri, and in Arkansas that saw absolutely not a drop.”
Even areas that had picked up rain over the summer have turned dry again.
“It’s very significant across Kansas and Oklahoma, and even east of the Mississippi River where they’ve had better rainfall over the summertime. This last month hasn’t been that kind to them outside of what happened with Hurricane Ian on the East Coast. Dryness and drought have been creeping in those areas too. So, it’s expanding rather rapidly.”
He says a ridge of high pressure is the primary culprit for holding back precipitation in a lot of areas.
“What we’ve kind of seen most of the summer, honestly, it kind of didn’t work out where we’ve had some thunderstorms going through. We’ve had a large ridge of high pressure tied to La Niña and the conditions we’ve seen all summer long. That has been kind of the background feature for most of the country here, and that ridge of high pressure is hot and dry, and we’ve certainly seen a lot of those conditions. Every once in a while, it breaks up, and we’ve seen some better rainfall. But that hasn’t happened in the Plains States or the West.”
The Central Plains and Western U.S. continue to be hardest hit by drought.
“Based on the drought monitor itself, we’re looking at Southwestern Nebraska down through the Texas panhandle, and then most of Kansas and Oklahoma as kind of the main area there that it’s just been in dire straits all summer long, and now into the fall. But the West hasn’t had a whole lot, either. They’ve had a little bit of improvement. They got a unique storm system out in California that gave them some rain. But there’s still significant drought out there in California, also through the Great Basin, so Nevada, Utah, and Southern Oregon also.”