Isaac: 1, Midwest drought: 0

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Drought Monitor Remnants of Hurricane Isaac walloped parts of the Midwest drought last week as it slowly dissipated, but soaking rains were limited to just a few of the region’s states. 

The national Drought Monitor Report, released on Thursday morning, showed that even with Isaac’s soaking, drought conditions in the contiguous United States shifted just slightly, with 42.48 percent in severe to exceptional drought, compared to 42.34 percent last week. Exceptional drought conditions crept up to 6.14 percent from 6.04 percent.  

In the Midwest, the story is a different matter. Missouri, in particular, saw the most aggressive recovery from the drought, with extreme to exceptional conditions dropping by nearly 66 percent. Last week, more than 97 percent of the state was covered in these drought conditions, but with Isaac’s help the percentage has been reduced to just 31.88 percent.

Isaac also crawled across Illinois, fully eliminating the worst category of drought -- exceptional -- in the state.

As a whole, the Midwest’s drought conditions improved by nearly 19 percent, and less than 1 percent of the region is considered in exceptional drought.

The High Plains weren’t as lucky, however. Isaac mostly stayed away from the region, and the Drought Monitor clearly showed the devastating impact it had on the region. Last week, around 23 percent of Nebraska was in exceptional drought. This week, that number has jumped to more than 70 percent.

South Dakota also showed signs of the deepening drought. Nearly half of the state is in extreme to exceptional drought, compared to 26 percent last week. This was also the first week the state reported exceptional drought conditions this year. The last time exceptional drought was reported in South Dakota was in August 2006. Read more here.  

Here is a quick look at the drought’s progression – or improvement – in select corn-producing states and regions:   

D3-D4

D4

State

This Week

Last Week

Difference

State

This week

Last week

Difference

Kansas

88.34

90.14

1.8

Kansas

60.61

55.18

-5.43

Nebraska

97.94

97.21

-0.73

Nebraska

70.58

23.33

-47.25

South Dakota

49.84

26.44

-23.4

South Dakota

4.77

0

-4.77

High Plains

61.01

54.19

-6.82

High Plains

25.54

14.97

-10.57

Missouri

31.88

97.44

65.56

Missouri

3.01

35.29

32.28

Illinois

6.96

69.56

62.6

Illinois

0

7.82

7.82

Indiana

39.22

37.09

-2.13

Indiana

10.81

10.71

-0.1

Midwest

14.26

33.19

18.93

Midwest

0.93

7.09

6.16

U.S

21.45

23.18

1.73

U.S.

6.14

6.04

-0.1

See how your state is doing here.

Good news coming soon?
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) did have a better outlook for many states across the nation’s heartland. In their Seasonal Drought Outlook availble here, improvement is expected in Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and areas east of the Missouri river by the end of November.

“The seasonal decline in temperatures over the next 3 months will substantially reduce surface water lost to evaporation and vegetative growth,” The Seasonal Drought Outlook reported. “Furthermore, precipitation tends to fall at a more moderate rate over a longer period of time, which recharges soil moisture efficiently. Snowfall similarly holds moisture that seeps slowly into the soil as it melts. These factors, along with anticipated precipitation patterns at least partially driven by the developing El Nino episode, should bring some relief to drought-affected areas in the East, the Mississippi Valley, the Midwest, and the northern Great Plains.

The U.S. Climate Prediction Center predicted a weak El Niño to arrive in September or October and persist through December 2012 through February 2013. As Reuters reports, this is a slightly later time frame than the agency reported last month.  Read more from Reuters here.

A weak El Niño could bring drought relief to the Midwest and High Plains this winter.  According to AccuWeather.com, during a weak El Niño there is generally a balance between southern warmth and northern chill, resulting in ample energy and moisture for storms while in a strong El Niño, the storm track sets up in such a way to allow warm air to overwhelm the Midwest and Northeast; therefore, storms tend to favor rain rather than snow.  Read more here.



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