A climatologist who studies drought conditions says a “bull’s eye of dryness” is centered on the nation’s midsection.
Mark Svoboda of the National Drought Mitigation Center says part of the problem is the winds in Iowa are coming from the southwest — states like Arizona, New Mexico and Texas where it’s bone dry.
“This is kind of what we call a drought feeding on itself and I think we have the potential to really escalate this drought in the summer if we don’t get the rainfall they’re calling for over the next five days,” Svoboda says. “So if there’s any silver lining in the cloud — or lack of clouds, if you will — this exact region — we need that heavy rainfall forecasted over the next five days for this very region, the bull’s eye of this dryness, because right now it looks like July, early August out there.”
Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, Illinois and Indiana have had a signficant “dry down” according to Svoboda, because there was little snow fall in the winter and a relatively dry spring.
“But the temperatures have been the real story,” Svoboda says, “so when we look at temperature departures over the last, say, three months, we’re seeing temperatures eight to 10 degrees or more above normal across eastern Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri and Iowa.”
The most severe Midwest drought in recent memory happened in 1988 and ’89. Normal rainfall for this time of year is about an inch per week, according to Svoboda, and it would require significant rainfall this weekend to erase the moisture deficit in much of the Midwest.
“This rain this weekend, this next couple of days, is pretty darned critical to sort of tell us how we’re sitting in late June, early July,” Svoboda says. “…We have no soil moisture down to three feet virtually everywhere. When people are talking about digging posts and doing work out in their yards — and I’ve seen this myself personally, too — I’m mean, there’s virtually nothing down to three or four feet.”
The National Drought Mitigation Center is based at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. The latest forecast for the state of Iowa suggests there will be “chances for showers and thunderstorms throughout the next several days.”