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Regional Drought Update Date
September 2, 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.

Current Areas in Drought Likely to Persist Through September

 

Key Points

  • August rainfall has helped improve drought conditions in some portions of the Midwest (southern Missouri, central Minnesota, northern Wisconsin, central Illinois, western Indiana, and western Kentucky), while other areas have not been so lucky (southern Iowa, western Illinois, northern Missouri).  
  • As of August 30, drought is affecting 10% of the Midwest region, with the most intense areas in northwestern Iowa and southwestern Missouri (extreme drought, D3), and southern Iowa and east-central Minnesota (severe drought, D2).  
  • Overall, corn and soybean crops are in good condition across the region; however, yields are expected to be lower in the areas that have been dealing with drought this summer, particularly in Iowa and Missouri.  
  • Some areas are also showing signs of hydrological drought, including reduced surface water, streamflow, and groundwater levels. In southern Minnesota, lake levels are low and boaters are having issues launching and retrieving boats.  
  • The September monthly precipitation outlook shows below-normal precipitation is likely across Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin, with above-normal temperatures as well. As a result, drought conditions are likely to persist through September.  
  • Drought impacts will be less severe as the growing season is coming to an end; however, hydrological impacts to surface water, streamflow and groundwater could increase the longer the drought persists

Report Your Drought Impacts

Current Conditions
U.S. Drought Monitor Conditions: Midwest | August 30, 2022

Current U.S. Drought Monitor map for the Midwest Drought Early Warning System (DEWS) with data valid for August 30, 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
10%
of the Midwest is in drought (D1 or worse)
3%
less of the Midwest is in drought than one week ago
28%
of the Midwest is classified as abnormally dry (D0) or worse

Current Conditions and Impacts

Current Conditions

  • August rainfall has helped improve drought conditions in some portions of the Midwest (southern Missouri, central Minnesota, northern Wisconsin, central Illinois, western Indiana, and western Kentucky), while other areas have not been so lucky (southern Iowa, western Illinois, northern Missouri) (Figure 1).
  • Drought is currently affecting 10% of the Midwest region. The most intense areas of drought are in northwestern Iowa and southwestern Missouri (extreme drought – D3) and southern Iowa and east-central Minnesota, near the Twin Cities (severe drought – D2).
  • The two pockets of extreme drought have very different evolutions. Despite some relief over the winter of 2021–22, drought in northwestern Iowa has been persistent since summer 2020. On the other hand, extreme drought in southwestern Missouri had quick onset this summer, beginning in mid-July. 
  • Drought in southern Iowa has also rapidly intensified since late July (currently at severe drought – D2) as a result of below-normal rainfall (Figure 2) and slightly above-normal temperatures (Figure 3). West-central Illinois and northern Missouri have also only received 10%–25% of their normal August rainfall.
  • On the other hand, southern Missouri and western Kentucky have benefited from above-normal rainfall the last 30 days, which has improved drought by one to three categories on the U.S. Drought Monitor. August rainfall has also brought some drought relief to east-central Illinois, which has been in drought since mid-June, peaking at severe drought (D2).
  • For the most part, temperatures over the last 30 days have been near-normal across much of the region (Figure 3), which has helped conditions by limiting overall evaporative demand (i.e., more water stays on the surface, as opposed to evaporation to the atmosphere). 

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 improved in some parts of the Midwest and worsened in others.
4-week change map for the U.S. Drought Monitor (from August 2–30, 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 (August 3–September 1, 2022)

August 3 to September 1 precipitation has been below normal for southern Iowa, west-central Illinois, and northern Missouri.
Percent of normal precipitation for the last 30 days (August 3–September 1, 2022) compared to the 1991–2020 historical average for the same time period. Source: Midwest Regional Climate Center cli-MATE maps.

Figure 3. 30-Day Departure from Normal Temperature (°F) (August 3–September 1, 2022)

From August 3 to September 1, most of the Midwest has seen near- to above-normal temperatures.
The departure from normal temperature (°F) for the last 30 days (August 3–September 1, 2022) compared to the 1991–2020 historical average for the same time period. Source: Midwest Regional Climate Center cli-MATE maps.

Drought Impacts

  • Soil moisture is lacking in some states across the Midwest. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), soil moisture is reported to be “short to very short” across 52% of Missouri, 45% of Iowa, and 43% of Indiana (Figure 4). 
  • USDA reports that corn and soybeans are in good condition across much of the region, and spring wheat is in good condition in Minnesota (the only state where it is grown in the Midwest).
  • However, corn and soybean yields are likely to be lower in the areas that have experienced drought this summer (particularly in northwestern and southern Iowa, and southern Missouri). In northwestern Iowa and portions of Missouri, some farmers have begun chopping corn for silage due to the damage from drought. August rainfall has helped soybeans in these areas a bit, but 18% and 10% of soybeans are reported to be in “poor to very poor” condition in Missouri and Iowa, respectively.
  • The majority of corn crops are rated in “good to excellent” condition across all Midwest states except Kentucky (Figure 5). In Kentucky, only 31% of the corn is rated as good to excellent. However, this number reflects not only the impact of drought in the western part of the states earlier this summer (August rains came too late to help corn), but also crop damage from flooding in the east during August.
  • In Minnesota, the apple crop has been delayed by a couple of weeks due to drought, and apples may be smaller this year due to lack of rainfall. Also, apples were not turning red, likely due to more sunshine and higher nighttime low temperatures.
  • Some areas of the Midwest are showing signs of hydrological drought as well. The USGS Climate Response Network (which includes wells to monitor the effects of drought and other climate variability) shows that wells in northern Indiana, eastern Illinois, Michigan, southern Wisconsin, and Iowa are showing below-normal groundwater levels (Figure 6).
  • Average streamflows for the last 28 days are also showing moderate to extreme hydrologic drought, mainly in western portions of the region (Figure 7).
  • In southern Minnesota, lake levels are low, and this is causing boaters problems with launching and retrieving boats. Minnesota Department of Natural Resources crews are repairing and extending many boat launch ramps so the public can continue to enjoy boating, despite the low water conditions.

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

Submit Local Drought Impacts

Figure 4. Topsoil Moisture – Percent Short to Very Short (Week ending August 28, 2022)

For the week ending August 28, 2022, 48% of CONUS has topsoil moisture rated short to very short
USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) topsoil moisture report of soils rated “short to very short” for the week ending August 28, 2022 by state. The number on top represents the current condition, with the change from last week in the brackets below. Source: USDA, CPC.

Figure 5. USDA-NASS Corn Condition Report for August 28, 2022

For the week ending August 28, 2022 , the majority of corn crops are rated in "good to excellent" condition across all Midwestern states, except Kentucky.
USDA-NASS crop condition report for August 28, 2022 showing the percent of corn rated "good to excellent" by state. The number on top represents the current condition, with the change from last week in the brackets below. Source: USDA.

Figure 6. USGS Climate Response Network – Groundwater Percentiles (August 31, 2022)

 The USGS Climate Response Network shows that wells in northern Indiana, eastern Illinois, Michigan, southern Wisconsin, and Iowa are showing below-normal groundwater levels.
Groundwater levels compared to normal from the USGS Climate Response Network for August 31, 2022. USGS maintains a network of wells to monitor the effects of droughts and other climate variability on groundwater levels. The water-level changes in the Climate Response Network should primarily reflect climatic variability and not human influences. Source: USGS Climate Response Network

Figure 7: USGS 28-Day Average Streamflow Compared to Historical Streamflow (Wednesday, August 31, 2022)

Average streamflows for the last 28 days are also showing moderate to extreme hydrologic drought
This map depicts 28-day average streamflow that is below the historical conditions for August 31, 2022. Source: USGS WaterWatch.

Outlook and Potential Impacts

  • The short-term precipitation outlook for September 9–15 shows the possibility for above-normal precipitation across southern portions of the region, near-normal precipitation across the central Midwest, and below-normal precipitation across Minnesota (Figure 8). Temperatures are likely to be above normal.
  • Unfortunately, the Climate Prediction Center's monthly precipitation outlook shows that some of the areas still in drought (Iowa, Minnesota) are likely to have below-normal precipitation in September (Figure 9), and temperatures are expected to be above normal as well (Figure 10). 
  • With this outlook for September 2022, it is likely that drought conditions will persist where currently present, with the potential for some drought development as well.
  • While drought is likely to persist, with the growing season almost over, the impacts won’t be as severe. However, hydrological impacts could increase if drought continues—meaning that soil moisture and surface water, streamflow, and groundwater levels could continue to decline.
  • Ecological impacts could also increase with reduced availability of water overall.

Figure 8. 8–14 day Precipitation Outlook (Valid September 9–15, 2022)

The 8-14 day precipitation outlook for September 9-15 favors above-normal precipitation across southern portions of the region, near-normal precipitation across the central Midwest, and below-normal precipitation across Minnesota.
8–14 day precipitation outlook for September 9–15, 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 9. Monthly Precipitation Outlook for September 2022

The September 2022 precipitation outlook favors below-normal precipitation for areas in drought in the Midwest (Iowa, Minnesota).
Monthly precipitation outlook for September 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 10. Monthly Temperature Outlook for September 2022

The September 2022 temperature outlook favors above-normal temperatures across a majority of the Midwest.
Monthly temperature outlook for September 2022. The red shades represent areas with a greater chance for above-normal temperatures; white areas represent equal chances for either above-, near-, or below-normal temperatures; and blue shades represent areas with a greater chance for below-normal temperatures. Source: NOAA Climate Prediction Center.

For More Information

Prepared By

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

Dennis Todey & Laurie Nowatske
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.