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Regional Drought Update Date
July 21, 2022
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Drought Status Update

Drought Status Update for the Midwest U.S.


DEWS Regions:
Update Status:

NIDIS and its partners will issue future drought status updates as conditions evolve.

Drought Continues to Intensify Across Portions of the Midwest

For details on the current conditions, view the July 21 North Central Climate and Drought Outlook Webinar (which be available on Friday, July 22 here).

Key Points

  • Drought has rapidly intensified throughout the summer in portions of the Midwest (“flash drought”). Currently, 17% of the Midwest is in drought, which is 16% more than 5 weeks ago. 
  • The highest drought level in the region is extreme drought (D3), which is currently impacting northwest Iowa and southern Missouri.
  • Current drought impacts include widespread vegetation stress (e.g., grass, plants, trees, crops), specifically in corn, where the hot and dry conditions have coincided with the reproductive phase, which will likely have a negative impact on yield
  • Other impacts include the need for irrigation to sustain crops, poor pasture conditions, increased wildfire risk, and the implementation of water conservation efforts by some municipalities in western Iowa.
  • Forecasts show that portions of the region might get a short break from the excessive heat and dry conditions in late July through early August. Near- to above-normal rainfall would help ease the stress on agriculture and reduce wildfire risk. 
  • Despite the potential for some short-term relief, it is likely that hot and dry conditions will return to the region in August, and potentially continue through September and October as well. 
  • The U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook (for July 21 through October 31) shows the likelihood of drought persistence across areas already in drought, and potential development of drought across northern Missouri, Iowa, and southern Minnesota. 

Report Your Drought Impacts

Current Conditions
U.S. Drought Monitor Conditions: Midwest | July 19, 2022

Current U.S. Drought Monitor map for the Midwest Drought Early Warning System (DEWS) with data valid for July 19, 2022. The U.S. Drought Monitor (USDM) is updated each Thursday to show the location and intensity of drought across the country. Drought categories show experts’ assessments of conditions related to dryness and drought including observations of how much water is available in streams, lakes, and soils compared to usual for the same time of year. 

U.S. Drought Monitor Categories
Value Map Hex Color
D0 - Abnormally Dry #ffff00
D1 - Moderate Drought #ffcc99
D2 - Severe Drought #ff6600
D3 - Extreme Drought #ff0000
D4 - Exceptional Drought #660000
Main Stats
17%
of the Midwest is in drought (D1 or worse)
16%
more of the Midwest is in drought than 5 weeks ago
43%
of the Midwest is classified as abnormally dry (D0) or worse

Current Conditions and Impacts

Current Conditions

  • Drought has rapidly intensified this summer throughout portions of the Midwest. Drought has intensified by at least one category over the last four weeks in some portion of all Midwest states, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Parts of Missouri and western Kentucky have had drought intensify by three categories (Figure 1).
  • Currently, 17% of the region is in drought, with the most intense pockets of moderate to extreme drought (D1–D3) in northwestern Iowa and southern Missouri. Other areas in moderate to severe drought (D1–D2) are central Illinois, western Kentucky, and central Minnesota. 
  • Recent extreme heat along with below-normal rainfall (Figure 2) has been the main driver for the rapid intensification of drought. Since June 1, multiple cities across the region have ranked within the top 10 for the number of days above 95°F, including Joplin, MO (22 days), St. Louis, MO (11 days), and Minneapolis–St. Paul, MN (4 days).
  • The extreme heat has increased evaporative demand (or the “thirst” of the atmosphere) over the last month, which is shown through high Evaporative Demand Drought Index (EDDI) values, particularly across Minnesota (Figure 3). When evaporative demand is high, any rain that does fall on the landscape is likely to evaporate. When moisture is not available, crops will become stressed.

Figure 1. 4-Week Change Map for the U.S. Drought Monitor

The 4-week U.S. Drought Monitor change map shows that drought has intensified by at least one category since June 21 in some portion of all Midwest states.
4-week change map for the U.S. Drought Monitor (from June 21–July 19, 2022). The green areas show where drought status improved, the yellow/orange shows where drought worsened, and the gray areas are where the drought remained the same (during this 4-week period). Source: National Drought Mitigation Center.

Figure 2. 30-Day Percent of Normal Precipitation (June 22–July 21, 2022)

June 22 to July 21 precipitation has been below normal for parts of the Midwest, with the greatest deficits in southern Missouri.
Percent of normal precipitation for the last 30 days (June 22–July 21, 2022) compared to the 1991–2020 historical average for the same time period. Source: Midwest Regional Climate Center cli-MATE maps.

Figure 3. Evaporative Demand Drought Index (EDDI) for 4 Weeks Ending July 14, 2022

The 4-week average Evaporative Demand Drought Index (as of July 14) shows areas of high evaporative demand across all Midwest states.
The Evaporative Demand Drought Index (EDDI) for the 4 weeks leading up to July 15, 2022. EDDI is an experimental drought monitoring tool that can serve as an indicator of both rapidly evolving "flash" droughts and sustained droughts. It examines how anomalous the atmospheric evaporative demand (E0; also known as "the thirst of the atmosphere") is for a given location and time period of interest. EDDI can offer early warning of agricultural drought, hydrologic drought, and fire-weather risk. Source: NOAA Physical Sciences Laboratory via Drought.gov.

Drought Impacts

  • A leading impact of rapid intensification drought, or “flash drought”, is a rapid decline in soil moisture (Figure 4), which leads to increased stress on vegetation (Figure 5). Vegetation stress is being observed at various scales across the region—from backyards to fields of crops. 
  • Drought stress has been apparent in corn in some areas of the Midwest (northwest Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois, Missouri, Indiana, and Kentucky). While the scope of damage will not be known for some time, it is likely that yields could be affected since the recent hot and dry weather has coincided with the corn’s reproductive stage. 
  • Despite the hot and dry conditions, the majority of corn is reported to be in good to excellent condition across the region (Figure 6). Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, and Missouri are reporting lower percentages of corn in good to excellent condition. There are some reports of stressed soybeans in Iowa, but soybeans are more resilient to drought during this time of year. 
  • Pasture conditions are very poor across Missouri, providing almost no feed for livestock. Supplemental feeding is required in order to maintain livestock condition. Surface water for livestock is also limited.
  • The hot and dry conditions have affected specialty crops. In Kentucky, the heat has killed apple trees and affected the quality of apples, and in Michigan, many growers are having to rely upon irrigation in order to avoid negative impacts. 
  • Wildfire risk has increased due to the hot and dry conditions, and some local areas have had to implement burn bans in Indiana, Missouri, and Michigan as a result.
  • While there are no widespread concerns about municipal water supply, some cities in western Iowa (including Sioux City, Iowa) are implementing water conservation measures.

Report your drought impacts through the Condition Monitoring Observer Reports (CMOR):

Submit Local Drought Impacts

Figure 4. NASA SPoRT-LIS 0–100cm Soil Moisture Percentiles (valid July 21, 2022)

According to NASA SPoRT-LIS 0-100cm soil moisture percentiles, all states in the Midwest are experiencing some areas with soil moisture below 30% of normal.
NASA’s Short-term Prediction and Transition Center – Land Information System (SPoRT-LIS) 0–100cm soil moisture percentiles, valid on July 21, 2022. NASA SPoRT-LIS provides high-resolution (about 3-km) gridded soil moisture products in real-time to support regional and local modeling and improve situational awareness. Source: NASA via Drought.gov

Figure 5. QuickDRI for the 4 Weeks Ending July 17, 2022

According to the July 17 Quick Drought Response Index, much of the Midwest is experiencing increased vegetative stress.
Quick Drought Response Index (QuickDRI) for the 4 weeks ending July 17, 2022. QuickDRI is a shorter-term indicator of dryness that uses vegetation drought indicators over a 4-week time frame to assess the degree of environmental stress. It is calculated through the analysis of satellite- and model-based observations. Source: QuickDRI

Figure 6. USDA-NASS Crop Condition Report for July 17, 2022

The majority of corn crops are reported to be in good to excellent condition across the Midwest, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
U.S. Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) July 17 crop condition report, showing the percent of corn rated good to excellent by state. The percent change from the previous week is shown in brackets. Source: USDA NASS.

Outlook and Potential Impacts

  • The excessive heat is expected to continue over the next 3–7 days, particularly across southern portions of the Midwest (Missouri, Illinois, and Kentucky). 
  • After this, however, it looks like parts of the Midwest might get at least a short break from the excessive heat and dry conditions. Forecasts are showing an increased chance for near- to above-normal precipitation in the late July to early August time frame (Figure 7). 
  • Near- to above-normal rain and a break from the oppressive heat will likely limit the worsening of crop conditions, ease wildfire risk, and provide some replenishment of surface water for livestock. However, the scattered nature of rainfall means areas that see some relief could be fairly localized. 
  • Despite the potential for some short-term relief, it is likely that hot and dry conditions will return to the region in August (Figure 8). Below-normal precipitation in August could be harmful to soybeans, as this is a critical time for precipitation.
  • Looking at the August through October time frame, seasonal outlooks are showing a greater chance for above-normal temperatures and below-normal precipitation, which is likely to cause drought to persist in areas already experiencing drought, and drought expansion across northern Missouri, Iowa, and southern Minnesota (Figure 9). 
  • As a result of the seasonal outlook, the September 2022 Significant Wildland Fire Potential Outlook is showing chances for above-normal fire potential across western and southern portions of the region (Figure 10).
  • Potential impacts of drought persistence through late summer and early fall could include the increased hydrological impacts (e.g., streamflow, groundwater) if drought lasts for multiple months, which could lead to ecological impacts as well with reduced availability of surface water. 

Figure 7. 8-14 Day Precipitation Outlook (Valid July 29-August 4, 2022)

Odds favor near- to above-normal precipitation across the Midwest from July 29 to August 4, 2022.
8–14 day precipitation outlook for July 29–August 4, 2022. The green shades represent areas with a greater chance for above-normal precipitation, brown shades represent areas with a greater chance for below-normal precipitation, and gray represents areas with a greater chance for near-normal conditions. Source: NOAA Climate Prediction Center.

Figure 8. Monthly Precipitation Outlook for August 2022

Odds favor below-normal precipitation across the Midwest in August 2022.
Monthly precipitation outlook for August 2022. The green shades represent areas with a greater chance for above-normal precipitation, white areas represent equal chances for either above-, near-, or below-normal precipitation, and brown shades represent areas with a greater chance for below-normal precipitation. Source: NOAA Climate Prediction Center.

Figure 9. U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook for July 21–October 31, 2022

The U.S. Drought Outlook for July 21 to October 31predicts that drought will remain or develop across Missouri and most of Iowa, southern Minnesota, far-western Illinois, and western Michigan.
Seasonal drought outlook for July 21–October 31, 2022, showing the probability that drought will persist, improve, or develop. The brown color shows areas where the drought is likely to persist, and the yellow color shows areas where drought development is likely. Source: NOAA Climate Prediction Center via Drought.gov.

Figure 10. Significant Wildland Fire Potential Outlook for September 2022

According to the National Interagency Fire Center, parts of Minnesota, Iowas, Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana have significant wildland fire potential in September 2022.
Significant wildland fire potential outlook for September 2022. Above-normal significant wildfire potential (red) indicates a greater than usual likelihood that significant wildland fires will occur. These assessments are designed to inform decision makers for proactive wildland fire management. Source: Predictive Services, National Interagency Fire Center

For More Information

Prepared By

Molly Woloszyn
NOAA/National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS), CIRES/University of Colorado Boulder

Dennis Todey
USDA Midwest Climate Hub

Doug Kluck
NOAA/National Centers for Environmental Information

Melissa Widhalm
Midwestern Regional Climate Center/Purdue University

Ray Wolf & Audra Bruschi
NOAA/National Weather Service

Special Thanks

This drought status update is issued in partnership between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to communicate a potential area of concern for drought expansion and/or development within the Midwest U.S. based on recent conditions and the upcoming forecast. NIDIS and its partners will issue future drought status updates as conditions evolve.