Dennis Todey (USDA photo)

This is the first day of summer and the continued hot, windy conditions are raising fears of flash droughts in Iowa and across the Midwest region.

Meteorologist Dennis Todey, director of the U.S.D.A.’s Midwest Climate Hub in Ames, says we’ve been seeing elevated temperatures for a few weeks already and that heat may soon start impacting Iowa corn and soybeans.

Todey says, “Summer is hot but when you are warmer than average and have sunny skies, lots of wind, lower relative humidity, the atmosphere puts more demand or wants to use more water out of a crop.” A flash drought is the rapid onset or intensification of drought, brought on by all of the conditions we’re seeing. Todey says it can appear — and spread — very fast.

“That can add on problems very quickly, can add distress to a crop,” Todey says. “If you’ve got soil moisture to draw from, plants can handle this for a while. If your soil moisture is a bit more limited, the problems will show up sooner.”

The latest climate outlooks show warmer temperatures across Iowa and much of the Northern Plains into September. Soil moisture, he notes, is being depleted rapidly due to the hot, windy weather.

(By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton)