Dry conditions worsen heading into winter

Drought conditions continue to worsen in the High Plains and Midwest heading into winter, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

Brian Fuchs with the National Drought Mitigation Center tells Brownfield extreme and exceptional drought remain in eastern Nebraska and Kansas. And he says the more than three years of drought has caused soil moisture deficits greater than 20 inches deep.

“When you’re talking about an area that in a normal year gets, depending where you’re at in that region, 30 to 35 inches of precipitation in a calendar year and you’re greater than 20 inches below normal, you’ve lost out on almost a full year of precipitation.”

He says Iowa and Missouri have severe to extreme drought, soil moisture deficits vary and there have been several ebbs and flows in conditions throughout the year.

“It seems like when we’ve gotten the precipitation it’s been adequate to well above normal and then, it turns off. It’s kind of this roller coaster cycle of we’ve improved the drought monitor map, seen some easing of conditions and then, boom it dries out again.”

Fuchs says the moderately dry to severe drought in northern Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan has been around awhile, too. And while drought continues into the east, he says it’s not as bad as other states. 

“For the most part, those areas haven’t been too bad off and more of that dryness has been in the last year or so.”

He says many soils still haven’t frozen for the season, which means any short-term precipitation could soak right into the ground, but there’s not much moisture in the short-term to relieve the ongoing drought conditions.

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