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Special Edition North Central Drought and Climate Update Webinar: July 6, 2023

Event Date
July 6, 2023
Event Time
1:00 pm - 2:15 pm

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and climate partners (U.S. Department of Agriculture, American Association of State Climatologists, National Drought Mitigation Center) co-host monthly North Central U.S. Drought & Climate Outlook webinars, which cover the region from the Rockies to the Great Lakes.

Due to rapid drying conditions across the Midwest and corresponding impacts, an extra webinar was held this month to relay some of the most recent information on the climate—more specifically, antecedent conditions that led us to this point, current conditions and outlooks for the rest of the growing season. This webinar looked at rainfall, streamflow, drought conditions, soil moisture, temperatures, some crop conditions, and other impacts to water resources that have and may be of concern in the near future.


Welcome to the Webinar

Speaker: Doug Kluck, NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information

  • This webinar is being held due to drying conditions across the Midwest. The drought, its impacts, and outlook information were the focus on the webinar.
  • The regular North Central U.S. Climate and Drought monthly webinar occurs on the third Thursday of every month at 1pm Central/2pm Eastern. Register here.



Recent and Current Conditions

Speaker: Molly Woloszyn, NOAA National Integrated Drought Information System & CU Boulder/CIRES

  • Drought has recently intensified across the Midwest region in the last 8 weeks, with some areas seeing a 3-4 category decrease in drought. Rainfall has been significantly below normal for May through June, which is typically the wettest time of year for many areas. 
  • Rainfall over the last 7 days have helped with some drought relief, but more precipitation is needed over the coming weeks and months.
  • 43% of the north central U.S. is in some level of drought—from moderate to exceptional drought. The exceptional drought (D4) is in eastern Nebraska and in portions of Kansas. 
  • 64% of the Midwest is in drought, with an additional 24% of the region considered abnormally dry. Soil moisture is estimated to be most below normal across Missouri, Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska, and Kansas.



Agriculture and Other Impacts

Speaker: Dennis Todey, USDA Midwest Climate Hub 

  • Rains helped crops (corn, soybeans) immensely, but soils are still quite dry. Major yield loss seems to be averted, but overall yield is still at risk. Thankfully, the current outlooks are more favorable for crops (not as hot, not as dry). Local conditions will still be an issue.
  • For livestock, grass/lack of forage is an issue. Some cattle are also being sold off due to the conditions.
  • There are reported impacts to specialty crops. Unirrigated specialty crops saw reduced or no yield in places this spring (i.e., strawberries).
  • Other issues in the region include stressed landscape vegetation (drought caused watering demand even on somewhat established vegetation, stressed trees); water supply is limited (municipal/rural) in parts of Iowa, Illinois, Missouri and Nebraska; and burn bans are in place across some states.



Mississippi River Conditions & Impacts

Speaker: Anna Wolverton, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers/NOAA National Weather Service

  • The Lower Mississippi River relies heavily on flow from the Ohio River, with roughly 60% of the water in the Lower Mississippi coming from the Ohio.
  • Streamflow was much below normal across the Midwest and eastern Kansas and Nebraska in June. Some stations had near-record low flows. The Mississippi River at St. Louis recently set the record for daily low stage, beating a record in 1988.
  • The stations at St. Louis and Cairo have seen a recent increase due to the rain, but it is likely to decrease again rapidly after the water moves through the system.
  • The forecast for the next 14 days shows that big falls are expected at St. Louis and Cairo by mid-July.
  • Extra dredging is currently required to maintain the 9 foot channel, and there are restrictions to barge loads (reduce load by 10%–20%).



Climate Outlooks & Potential Impacts

Speaker: Doug Kluck, NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information

  • Short term: Week 2; Mid-July
    • Near to slightly below-normal temperatures are more likely across the northern U.S., with above-normal temperatures across southern portions of the region (Kentucky west to Colorado and Wyoming).
    • There is the chance for slightly above-normal rainfall changes in the Midwest, and slightly below across portions of Montana and Colorado.
  • Long term: July through September
    • There are equal chances of near-, above-, and below-normal temperatures in the Missouri River Basin, and slightly elevated chances for the Great Lakes, Midwest, and Rockies.
    • There is a chance for wetter conditions across the Great Plains from Texas to Montana. 
    • There is increasing potential for El Niño to influence the climate as we move further into late summer and fall.



Questions & Answers