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National data lists Missouri remaining in drought

National data lists Missouri remaining in drought

February 10th, 2018 by Jeff Haldiman in Local News

Most of Missouri remains in a drought, according to data released Thursday by the National Drought Mitigation Center.

Officials with the University of Missouri Extension said the drought affects livestock farmers facing dwindling hay reserves, and row crop farmers are eyeing the situation with caution as planting season nears.

"East-central, southeastern and south-central Missouri face the largest water deficits in the state," University of Missouri Extension Climatologist Pat Guinan said in a news release. "Smaller pockets of long-term dryness exist over portions of northern Missouri, but that could change. We're still in winter, and there is time for notable improvement. Climatologically, southeast Missouri has the best chance for drought recovery during the cold season."

While these current figures are concerning, things could be worse, Guinan noted.

"In 1953-54, there were 16 consecutive months of below-normal precipitation," he said. "Five years ago, Missouri experienced a severe hydrological drought that carried over from the historic drought of 2012. Conditions improved in February and March 2013, when a much wetter weather pattern emerged. A cool, wet spring followed."

For Missouri, September through January ranks as the driest September to January period in more than 40 years, Guinan added. The statewide average precipitation for the period was 8.3 inches — slightly more than half the normal 15.9 inches.

For the fifth year in a row, Missouri experienced below-normal precipitation in January. Statewide, precipitation for November and December 2017 averaged 1.91 inches, or 30 percent of normal. For some locations, the dry spell began as early as June 2017. By the end of the year, drought affected much of the state, with parts showing a rainfall deficit of a foot or more.

MU Extension specialists from east-central, southeastern and south-central Missouri reported drought impacts to Guinan in the fall, and he said these impacts persist.

"They reported failures of fall-sown crops, including wheat, to germinate," Guinan said. "Annuals such as oats and turnips did not produce well, and new grass and legume seedlings were reported in poor condition."

Guinan also said low temperatures during the last week of December into January made for stressful conditions for livestock farmers who had to break ice on frozen ponds and move cattle because of low or empty ponds or for shelter. Wells dried up or levels dropped.

"The extended period of subfreezing temperatures, combined with little or no snowpack and dry soils, contributed to an unusually deep frost line," he said. "The deep frost line, along with shifting soils due to the dry conditions, resulted in numerous reports of frozen water and sewer lines for homes and livestock operations."

Guinan encouraged Missourians to participate in the drought assessment process and submit information to the Drought Mitigation Center's Drought Impact Reporter at droughtreporter.unl.edu/map. For more information on how to submit information, go to climate.missouri.edu/news/arc/july2017b.php. The center's Drought Monitor Map collects data from numerous agencies.

Guinan suggested the following resources for those following Missouri's drought conditions:

National Drought Mitigation Center's Drought Impact Reporter, droughtreporter.unl.edu/map.

Drought Monitor Map for Missouri, droughtmonitor.unl.edu/CurrentMap/StateDroughtMonitor.aspx?MO.

Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network (CoCoRaHS) Condition Monitoring Map, cocorahs.org/Maps/conditionmonitoring.