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Thursday rain doesn't soften drought

Thursday rain doesn't soften drought

July 20th, 2018 by Jeff Haldiman in Local News

While this week's drought update from the National Weather Service office in St. Louis shows no dramatic change in precipitation patterns in the immediate future, there is good news with lower temperatures and less humidity in the forecast.

Mid-Thursday storms delivered 1.3 inches of rain in the Jefferson City area, but National Weather Service Hydrologist Mark Fuchs said it would take several days of that type of rain to bring the area to normal rainfall amounts for this time of the year.

Thursday's weekly update by the National Drought Mitigation Center showed most of Mid-Missouri, including Cole, Boone, Callaway and Moniteau counties, as being in "moderate" or "severe" drought conditions.

"The worst of the drought has occurred in the last few weeks, starting around the beginning of June," Fuchs said. "At our measuring site at Columbia Regional Airport, since June 1, we've received 3.4 inches of rain; and the average would be 7.1 inches. For the year, we're at 15.3 inches of rain, which is down 8.3 inches from the average of 23.7 inches."

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The long-term forecast is not offering much hope for significant rains, Fuchs said.

"Almost always the culprit is a big high pressure system in the southern part of the country pushing north into the Midwest, and that's what we've seen," he said. "That will always lead to long-term dryness or drought."

The lower temperatures and humidity in the forecast can help, Fuchs added.

"When you get to the 100-degree mark, like we've seen for much of the past couple of weeks, that causes evaporation; and this part of the country has extraordinarily high rates," he said.

Another positive for Mid-Missouri counties along the Missouri River is river levels are where water access will not be a problem for the immediate future. As of Thursday afternoon, the river was at 14 feet and was forecast to stay at that level for the next seven days.

"The Corps of Engineers is still doing above normal discharges at the Gavins Point Dam on the northern part of the river, in Nebraska and South Dakota, thanks to continued late mountain snow melt and above average rain fall in that area of the country," Fuchs said.

Gov. Mike Parson on Wednesday directed the Missouri Department of Natural Resources to activate the Drought Assessment Committee and the associated drought-impact teams to help coordinate resources to address drought impacts.

Parson said elements affected by the drought include livestock forage and water. There are at least three public water supplies in northern Missouri where much of the area is listed in "extreme" drought.

The governor's action included a drought alert for 47 Missouri counties experiencing severe or extreme drought on the U.S. Drought Monitor. Cole County is one of those counties, along with Boone, Callaway and Moniteau counties.