Some parts of the state have received as much as five inches of rain in recent weeks, but the state’s climatologist says the drought is by no means over.
Pat Guinan says the remnants of Hurricane Isaac put a significant dent in it though. “Most of Missouri saw some widespread, significant rainfall over many hours. It was a steady, soaking rain that did well in regard to soaking into the soil profile.”
Guinan says over the Labor Day weekend, between one and five inches of rain fell in parts of the state, but there much more is needed. “This situation began to emerge several months ago, and since then we have accumulated a significant deficit. Even with the remnants of Isaac … here we are in the middle part of September and we still have deficits of anywhere from eight to twelve inches below normal since May 1.”
Fall would be a good time for the state to receive rain, to recover from the drought. “More systems moving through, bringing us better chances of precipitation. Of course, cooler temperatures lowers the evaporative loss that we get from the soil as well as water resources above the ground and so that’s more opportunity for anything that falls from up above to soak into the soil and start filling up those water resources that are still depleted across the state.”
Though the major growing season for soybeans and corn is winding down, Guinan reminds that another significant crop is about to be planted. “Winter wheat will be planted and the wheat needs moisture to germinate this fall and so it’s important that we do get some decent rain or precipitation events as we go into the fall and winter, establish that recharge so that we can have a good start to the growing season next year.”
It remains to be seen whether this year’s drought will be limited to this year, span into next year or last even longer. Guinan says there have been very significant multi-year droughts in Missouri, and he believes that what has happened before can happen again.
“I also want to indicate that there’s no real signal or sign that this is a cycle or that it will continue into next year. There have been periods in the past like in 1980 … we had a very hot, dry summer in 1980 and there was concern that 1981 was going to also be a droughty growing season, but it was just the opposite. We had one of our wettest summers on record in 1981.”