Missouri is approaching its third straight year of dry conditions. According to the most recent data from the U.S. Drought Monitor, 96% of the state is dry.

State climatologist Zach Leasor told Missourinet that the state is behind on moisture, which could affect the growing season.

“Unless we see above normal precipitation soon in the rest of March and in April, we’re going to be pretty vulnerable to rapid onset of seeing some agricultural drought impacts if we don’t get some of that above normal precipitation,” he said.

Leasor expects above normal precipitation to impact the state through early April, however, his long-range forecast shows uncertainty for the summer.

“We’ve been very warm during the start of March, but we’ve also had a more active pattern,” Leasor said. “So, several days with rain and thunderstorms lately. This is starting to help, and we are expecting this active pattern to continue through late March and hopefully into April. So, we can hope for some of that rainfall.”

On the flipside, he said Missouri could experience an even worse drought this summer if the state sees near normal precipitation.

“Right now, the soil moisture across the state, which is so important for the agricultural sector in making that water available for plants, it is much below normal for this time of year because of what we saw in February, but also soils are much drier this time, right now, then they were in March of 2023,” he said.

As the El Niño weather pattern begins to come to an end and La Niña follows, summer could bring uncertainty. The state saw this pattern eight times dating back to 1950.

“Overall, there’s a tendency for maybe a little bit of a warmer summer, but the precipitation is all over the board,” he said. “So, when we flipped from El Niño to La Niña, we’ve had our wettest year on record in Missouri, which was 1973, but we’ve also had drought years like 1954 and 1988.”

Click here for the latest drought conditions.

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