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Drought Status Update - Midwest & Northern Plains

A two-page status update on drought conditions, including current conditions, impacts, and outlook, in the Midwest and Northern Plains regions for June 21, 2018.

Drought Concerns Linger With Above-Normal Temperatures

  • Recent rainfalls have eased some immediate drought concerns. However, warmth and existing drought conditions will continue to pose potential problems for the region.
  • Above-normal temperatures are likely to return in mid-summer, causing potential stress on crops during critical crop growth stages.

Current Conditions

  • Soaring extreme and consistently warm temperatures since early May over much of the central U.S. have exacerbated drought, and increased concern for drought worsening across the area.
  • The persistent above-normal temperatures have increased evapotranspiration for a broad area of the central U.S., resulting in reduced soil moisture and crop stress.
  • The warm temperatures have been coupled with very dry conditions throughout much of the region. Over the last 30 days, rainfall has only been 10-75% of normal in several areas across the North Central U.S. (Figure 3).
  • Recent widespread rains have eased some near-term drought issues, however some areas in drought did not receive significant rainfall.


  • Significant drought impacts that have been reported include major wildfires (CO), crop stress (KS, MO, SD, ND, IA) and some water supply issues (MO). Corn leaves have been rolling in many states, which is a sign of water deficiency.
  • Crop phenology in all of these states is entering a time where crop water use will increase quickly, which increases the potential for more crop issues.
  • In addition, streamflows have fallen below average in some areas from Colorado to western Illinois.


  • Over the next week, significant rainfall is forecasted across the central U.S., potentially bringing some relief and possible excess moisture to certain areas.
  • Through early July, there is an increased chance for above-normal temperatures and above-normal precipitation across most of the Midwest and Plains (Figure 4 and 5).
  • Despite chances for rainfall, the current dryness issues, expected heat, and water demand during the critical growing stage, may still cause drought persistence or development.

Next Update

Drought Status Updates will be issued in the future as conditions evolve. Drought and Climate Outlook Webinars are offered for regional Drought Early Warning Systems; for information on upcoming webinars please view the calendar.