The 2012 drought was among the most extreme the country has seen in recent memory, including the hottest July on record.
Climate scientists at the University of Missouri are predicting that the coming summer will be dry, but not as bad as last year.
Anthony Lupo is chair of the Department of Soil, Environmental and Atmospheric Sciences. His methodology is based on historical patterns and statistics, not on week-to-week forecasts.
Lupo’s prediction for the coming summer offers some good news.
“At this point we’re projecting that things will be on the warm side of normal for this summer, not anywhere near like last year,” says Lupo. “We are still expecting to be a little warmer than normal and a little drier than normal.”
Given that the Midwest, and Missouri in particular have experienced two straight years of drought, Lupo says it’s hard to say exactly how the state will fare in 2013.
Despite recent rains, Lupo cautions that levels of soil moisture have been depleted down to 5 feet in some locations, and if rains do not come at timely increments, farmers could still face drought conditions this spring and summer.
“We could get all of our rain on one day in June, and it wouldn’t rain for the rest of the summer—that would be bad,” notes Lupo. “If we were to get rain in timely does and at the right time for planting, you can still be below normal and get by.”
Professor Lupo notes that soil moisture influences air temperature by impacting igh evaporation, which in turn impacts evaporative cooling. Without this cooling, daytime temperatures could be as much as 10 degrees Fahrenheit higher than average.