The Midwest: Heavy rain soaked the upper Midwest, easing or eradicating dryness (D0) and drought (D1). Some of the heaviest rain drenched Minnesota, where 2- to 4-inch totals were common. On May 26, Rochester, Minnesota, noted a calendar-day precipitation total in excess of an inch for the first time since July 15, 2011—and the end of its longest spell (315 days) without a one-inch total since September 22, 1994 - March 23, 1996 (549 days). In sharp contrast, dryness (D0) and moderate drought (D1) continued to develop and expand across the central and eastern Corn Belt. By May 27, the portion of the corn crop rated in very poor to poor condition rose to 13% in Kentucky and 10% in Missouri. During the week ending May 27, the percentage of topsoil moisture rated very short to short rose at least 25 points in Ohio (from 16 to 50%), Illinois (33 to 63%), and Indiana (43 to 71%). In addition, holiday weekend heat gripped much of the Midwest, where Rockford, Illinois (99°F), notched a daily-record high for May 27. Drought continued to affect parts of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where the 20,000-acre Duck Lake fire charred several dozen structures near Pine Stump Junction.
The Plains: Like the Midwest, parts of the central and southern Plains experienced worsening conditions due to heat, wind, and short-term dryness. On May 22 in Nebraska, Chadron (99°F), Alliance (98°F), and Sidney (98°F) set all-time May records. Elsewhere in Nebraska, Scottsbluff (100°F on May 22) experienced its earliest triple-digit heat on record, previously established with a high of 100°F on May 28, 1934. In Kansas, daily-record highs for May 23 soared to 100°F in Dodge City and 98°F in Russell. Later, Hastings, Nebraska (100°F on May 26), recorded its earliest triple-digit reading, previously established with a high of 105°F on May 29, 1934. By May 27, topsoil moisture in Kansas was rated 74% very short to short, along with 62% in Texas, 60% in Oklahoma, and 52% in Nebraska. Harvest of Kansas winter wheat began (4% cut by May 27), with 25% of the crop rated in very poor to poor condition. In contrast, locally heavy shower provided some relief from dryness (D0) and moderate drought (D1) on the northern Plains.
The West: Under dry, breezy conditions, there were minor changes for the worse in the Southwest. Rangeland and pastures continued to deteriorate in many Western States. Topping the list was New Mexico, with 87% of its pastures and rangeland rated very poor to poor on May 27. Behind New Mexico were Arizona (67% very poor to poor), Nevada (51%), California (40%), Colorado (37%), and Wyoming (35%). New Mexico also had to contend with the nation’s largest wildfire of the year to date. By late May, the Whitewater-Baldy fire, east of Glenwood, New Mexico, had charred more than 150,000 acres of vegetation—with 0% containment. Meanwhile, a series of storms dropped maintained generally favorable conditions across the northern tier of the West. Some of the precipitation (rain and snow) fell in previously dry (D0) areas of the northern Intermountain region, resulting in slight improvement of the drought depiction in parts of Wyoming and Montana.