Heavy rain across portions of the northern Plains and Midwest succeeded storms that appeared late last week, easing some drought conditions but scaring up a few more problems, according to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor.
Overall, drought has receded from 47.66% of the contiguous U.S. in some form of drought last week, to 46.07% this week.
The same storm that was responsible for rain in the north-central U.S. contributed to a severe weather outbreak in Iowa and the tragic EF-5 tornado in Oklahoma, according to USDA Meteorologist Brad Rippey. The weather also shut down planting for a little while as farmers waited for fields to dry out.
Warmth came before the storms, in some places reaching triple-digit temperatures, which deteriorated wheat, pasture and rangeland. On Sunday, USDA reported that at least 40% of the rangeland and pastures were rated poor to very poor in seven of the eleven Western states. Wyoming and southern Montana, however, did receive rains totaling 2 inches or more.
In the Plains, more than 4 inches fell in parts of the Dakotas and Nebraska. Eastern Oklahoma and northeastern Texas also received considerable rain, though no precipitation fell across the southern High Plains, the Drought Monitor points out.
Here's a look at the U.S. Drought Monitor map for this week (top) as a comparison to last week (bottom).
Between March 17 and May 19, the percentage of winter wheat rated poor to very poor has steadily climbed from 44% to 76%, due to drought and spring freezes.
In the Midwest, temperatures fluctuated much like in the Plains. Iowa soared past temperature records set in the Dust Bowl era, reaching 106 degrees F in Sioux City.
Looking forward, Rippey said hotter temperatures are expected from May 28-June 3, and generally dry weather will visit the Southern region. The Plains and Midwest may be on the wet side, "particularly from the Dakotas into Michigan," Rippey said.
Read the full Drought Monitor report.
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