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Regional Drought Update Date
May 25, 2023
Site Section
Drought Status Update

Drought Early Warning Update for the Midwest U.S.

DEWS Regions:
Update Status:

NIDIS and its partners will issue future Midwest Drought Status Updates as conditions evolve.

Increased Risk for Drought Development in Portions of the Midwest Over the Next Few Weeks

Key Points

  • Most of the Midwest region has been much drier than normal in the past 4 to 6 weeks, which includes the states of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin (Figure 1). 
  • 27% of the region is considered abnormally dry, with 9% of the region in drought—primarily across Missouri and western Iowa, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. The moderate to extreme (D1–D3) drought in Missouri has developed since mid-April.
  • USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service reports increasingly dry topsoil (Figure 2), poor pasture conditions in Missouri, and limited moisture for newly planted crops. There are also reports of lower-than-normal streamflow and increased watering needs for gardens, perennials, and young trees. Reports on current conditions can be viewed through the Drought Impacts Multi-Tool (Figure 3).
  • The 8–14 day outlook indicates a strong possibility for above-normal temperatures and chances for below-average precipitation across the Midwest (Figures 4–6).
  • There is concern that the forecasted weather will likely worsen already dry conditions and potentially—and quickly—induce drought in some areas. Hotter temperatures will extract more moisture from the surface through evapotranspiration, and in the absence of additional rainfall, conditions can dry out very quickly.


As conditions evolve, accurate reports on conditions and drought impacts are critical to accurately assess what parts of the region are in drought and what parts are not. Whether your area is currently wet, close to normal, or dry, please consider reporting conditions and any drought impacts you see or hear via the Condition Monitoring Observer Reports (CMOR) from the National Drought Mitigation Center. If you are already a CoCoRaHS observer, we encourage you to submit a Condition Monitoring Report.

Report Impacts

Current Conditions
U.S. Drought Monitor | Midwest

U.S. Drought Monitor Categories

Main Stats
of the Midwest is classified as abnormally dry (D0) or worse
more of the Midwest is experiencing dryness/drought than 1 month ago
of the Midwest is in drought (D1–D4)

Figure 1: Percent of Normal Precipitation from April 25–May 24, 2023

A majority of the Midwest has experienced below-normal precipitation in the past 30 days.
The percent of normal precipitation for the last 30 days (April 25-May 24, 2023) compared to the 1991–2020 historical average for the same time period. Source: Midwest Regional Climate Center Cli-MATE.

Figure 2: Topsoil Moisture (Percent Rated Short to Very Short) – Week ending May 21, 2023

Midwest states are experiencing low topsoil moisture. In Nebraska, 58% of topsoil moisture is rated short to very short, as well 52% in Kansas, 38% in Missouri, 36% in South Dakota, and 40% in Michigan.
Topsoil moisture conditions rated as short to very short (percent) across the U.S. for the week ending May 21, 2023. The number on top represents the current condition, with the change from last week in the brackets below. Source: USDA.

Figure 3: Screenshot of the Drought Impacts Multi-Tool

The Drought Impacts Multi-Tool includes reports on current conditions, such as CoCoRaHS reports.
The Drought Impacts Multi-Tool allows you to display layers from the Drought Impact Reporter, Condition Monitoring Observer Reports (CMOR), CoCoRaHS, as well as drought news and tweets. Source: National Drought Mitigation Center Drought Impacts Toolkit.

Figure 4: Quantitative Precipitation Forecast for the Next 7 days (May 25–June 1, 2023)

From May 24th to June 1, the National Weather Service predicts less than 1 inch of rain across the Midwest, with many areas receiving no precipitation.
7-day Quantitative Precipitation Forecast, which shows the possibility for total precipitation accumulation (in inches) from May 25–June 1, 2023. Source: NOAA National Weather Service's Weather Prediction Center, via

Figure 5: 8–14 Day Temperature Outlook (Valid June 1–7, 2023)

For June 1st to 7th, odds favor above-normal temperatures across the Midwest.
8–14 day temperature outlook for June 1–7, 2023. The red shades represent areas with a greater chance for above-normal temperatures; blue shades represent areas with a greater chance for below-normal temperatures; and gray represents areas with a greater chance for near-normal temperatures. Source: NOAA Climate Prediction Center via

Figure 6: 8–14 Day Precipitation Outlook (Valid June 1–7, 2023)

From June 1st to 7th, odds favor near- to below-normal precipitation across the Midwest.
8–14 day precipitation outlook for June 1–7, 2023. 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 precipitation. Source: NOAA Climate Prediction Center via

Report Local Drought Impacts

Drought affects more than crops. How are you doing? Let others know by submitting a Condition Monitoring Observer Report.

Report your local drought impacts through the Condition Monitoring Observer Reports (CMOR) system.

Report Impacts

For More Information

Prepared By

Molly Woloszyn
NOAA/National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS), CIRES/CU Boulder

Midwest State Climatologists:

Dennis Todey
USDA Midwest Climate Hub

Doug Kluck
NOAA/National Centers for Environmental Information

Melissa Widhalm
Midwestern Regional Climate Center/Purdue University

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 North Central U.S. based on recent conditions and the upcoming forecast. NIDIS and its partners will issue future drought status updates as conditions evolve.