One of the tools used by federal officials in assessing drought and making decisions about it is the U.S. Drought Monitor. Its information could play a role in what Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack does with Governor Jay Nixon’s request that every county in the state be declared a disaster area due to drought.
State Climatologist Pat Guinan says Missourians can make sure the people updating the Monitor have all the information. That can be done through the Drought Impact Reporter. “You provide your information in regard to where you’re reporting this impact from and what sort of impact you’re seeing, be it water shortages, livestock ponds that are low, pastures that are all burned up … you can even submit pictures of the impact that you’re witnessing at your area.”
Guinan says it makes a difference. “That information automatically gets submitted or dispatched to the Drought Monitor author, who then can use that sort of information to make assessments on the severity level of the drought that’s impacting the area. I’m a firm believer that the more people who participate in the drought decision process, the better the depiction or accurate portrayal that we will have of drought across the country.”
Guinan says he can’t predict what federal officials will do with the Governor’s disaster declaration request, but he says there is no doubt this drought is historic.
“When we look at the numbers that are coming in of the crop conditions, of the heat that we’ve seen … we’re making comparisons to 1988 in regards to the crop conditions.”
He says the streaks of triple-digit temperature days are also comparable to the 1980s and the dust bowl era. “Some locations in Missouri, we’ve seen 10, 11 days continuous streak of triple-digit heat. That’s something we haven’t seen in more than 30 years in some location. Some, in fact, 80 years.”