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Drought Status Update: Midwest and Missouri River Basin - August 23, 2018

Extreme to Exceptional Drought Worsens in Missouri, Kansas, and Iowa Since Mid-July

  • Drought conditions have increased in severity and coverage across the central United States since mid-July, particularly in MO, KS, IA, MI,MN, ND, and SD.
  • Despite some recent rains, exceptional drought(D4) persists in KS and MO.
  • Agriculture and water supply have been the most negatively affected by this summer’s drought conditions. Some of the recent rainfall may help soybeans and pasture recovery, but it likely fell too late to help stressed corn. In addition, some water resources are so limited that consistent and multiple precipitation events are needed to see full recovery.

Current Conditions

  • While some the drought-affected areas in KS and MO received near- to above-normal precipitation over the last 30 days, rainfall totals have not drastically improved the drought conditions and soil moisture.
  • A majority of the region did get some relief from the summer’s persistent above-normal temperatures; recent cooler temperatures have helped reduce stress on crops and livestock.
  • In MI, above-normal temperatures and below-normal precipitation continued over the last 30 days,contributing to the introduction of severe drought (D2) and expansion of moderate drought (D1).


  • Impacts to municipal and rural water supply continue to intensify. A handful of counties or cities in KS and MO and a regional water commission in MO are implementing water restrictions and conservation measures. Hamilton County (MO) is looking to connect to emergency water supplies.
  • Notable agricultural impacts include continued crop and vegetation stress, very dry pastures (USDA reports 74% of pastures in MO are reporting poor to very poor conditions), hauling of water and early feeding of hay for livestock, and limited water in livestock ponds. Some farmers in IA, KS and MO have cut the corn for silage, and livestock producers are selling cattle from their herds to reduce feed usage. 
  • USDA Drought Disaster Designations have been declared for 95 counties in Kansas, 84 counties in Missouri, and 19 in Iowa.


  • The 8-14 Day Precipitation Outlook shows a greater chance for below-normal precipitation in areas of IA, KS, and MO, which may allow for crops to dry down earlier this year .
  • Above-normal temperatures are likely across the entire eastern U.S. in the 8-14 Day Temperature Outlook, which may help bring some crops like sorghum to maturity, while stressing others like soybeans.
  • Since it is nearing the end of the growing season, any rainfall received will likely be too late to significantly help some row crop agriculture, but could benefit lawns, gardens, and specialty crop growers.
  • Rainfall is extremely important now to recharge soil moisture, pastures, and water resources in the drought-stricken areas of the central U.S. ahead of the 2019 growing season.

Drought Resources:

NDMC interactive map showing drought impacts

Find your state climatologist

Kansas State University Extension

Missouri DNR Drought News, Conditions, and Resources

Iowa State University Extension

Next Update

Drought Status Updates will be issued in the future as conditions evolve. 

August 23, 2018