June rains help relieve drought in US plains states

GRN Reports:

Rains have relieved drought conditions across a major portion of the US, though not in critically dry California.

Here's a synopsis of what the US Drought Monitor – a collaboration of agencies is reporting.

  • In the Midwest, widespread rains totaling up to three inches fell throughout early June, relieving drought across Iowa and southern Minnesota. Nebraska also got some relief, though rains were less widespread there and significant parts of the state remain abnormally or moderately dry.
  • Illinois and Missouri received less rain overall (ranging from 1.5 to nearly 5 inches), but it was enough to recharge soil moisture and remove large areas of those states from being classed as “abnormally dry” or in moderate drought. In general, topsoil moisture improved across this region, but officials have reported that deeper down, fields remain short of moisture.
  • Kansas wasn't as fortunate, while rains helped reduce drought intensity in the eastern half of the state, the west continues to suffer, with "long-term subsoil moisture deficits" challenging growers.
  • In Texas, rainfall of 2-3 inches in the east helped lift parts of that region from being listed as abnormally dry. Drought conditions improved in the Panhandle and Oklahoma, as rains ranging from 1-3 inches helped relieve the "exceptional drought" gripping much of that area. Areas categorized as suffering exception and extreme drought were reduced in the Texas panhandle, western Oklahoma and southeastern Colorado.

The beneficial rains have not been sufficient to lift the deeper drought and dry subsoil conditions across western Oklahoma and Texas. These areas still considered "quite dry" with more than 60 percent of the local reports indicating fields are very short or short of moisture. Western Texas remains in similar straits.

The bottomline: More rain is needed across western Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas and in New Mexico and southeastern Colorado to return to "normal" growing conditions.

In the West, drought conditions in California, Nevada and Arizona remain critical, with a continued lack of rain. Dry conditions have expanded into southern Idaho, potentially affected crops there, and have become more serious in Arizona, where year-to-year rain is less than 50 percent of average and the risk of brush fires is considered high.

Drought Monitor May 13, 2014
Drought Monitor for May 13, 2014 (above).
Drought Monitor, June 10, 2014
A month later, rains have helped reduce severity and extent of drought in the plains states. But the drought continues unabated in the West.


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