Georgia, Florida Drought Improves, Corn Belt Drier

June 15, 2012; 6:26 PM
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Waves of downpours have greatly eased the drought in portions of northern Florida and southern Georgia in recent weeks, while dry conditions have gotten worse in parts of the corn belt.

Relief for Peanut Growing Areas of Georgia and Florida

According to Agricultural Meteorologist Dale Mohler, "Some of the prime growing areas for peanuts received beneficial rain over the past couple of weeks."

Moisture from Tropical Storm Beryl got the ball rolling in the right direction over the Memorial Day weekend.

The peanut crop in northern Florida and southern Georgia is usually planted in May and harvested in October.

The region had been in a state of an exceptional drought, which had its origins into last year.

Some cotton is also grown in the region.

While much of the area is still being influenced by a long-term rainfall deficit, the short-term situation is in much better shape.

Since May 15, Gainesville, Fla., has received double their normal rainfall with over 8.50 inches. Way Cross, Ga., has received 150 percent of the normal rainfall for the same period. For a change, Dothan, Ala., has received near-normal rainfall since May 15.

The forecast into next week calls for a drying and warming trend with high pressure building over the Eastern states. However, that trend may reverse later in the month as a trough of low pressure develops in the eastern U.S., which is bound to bring a bloom of clouds, showers and thunderstorms.

More rain is needed in the region in general. There are still areas suffering an exceptional drought over central Georgia, for example.

Building Drought in Parts of Corn Belt

While the weather pattern will favor round after round of showers and thunderstorms for part of the northern Plains and the Upper Midwest into next week, many already dry areas of the corn belt will have little or no rain through the same period, through the end of June and beyond.

Short-term, abnormally dry conditions are turning into drought conditions over an increasing area of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Ohio.

What happens in this situation is the dry ground causes the sun's energy to focus more on heating the ground and the nearby air. The cycle continues with higher temperatures increasing evaporation rates, and so on.

A series of storm systems will bring repeating downpours and also the risk of flash flooding to portions of Minnesota, South Dakota, Wisconsin and even into part of Nebraska and Iowa, but the highway of rain will not lead into areas farther south and east over the Midwest.

Rainfall departures since May 15 range from 10 to 50 percent of normal over a broad area from Grand Island, Neb., and Kansas City, Mo., to Indianapolis, Ind., and Dayton, Ohio.

A zone of high pressure is forecast to build over the region into the weekend, driving temperatures into the 90s in much of the area and increasing evaporation rates.

"While heat or dryness is bad by themselves, the combination of the two could cause some problems during corn pollination, which will soon be getting under way over much of the region," Mohler said.

There is a chance of very spotty thundershower activity with the building heat and humidity into this weekend. However, this is not the type of rainfall that would reverse the building dry and drought conditions in most areas.

A front swinging through later next week has a better chance at bringing general rainfall. However, that is likely to only be a singular event and not enough to erase the current trend.

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