Drought conditions have grown in portions of Missouri over the past few weeks, and according to the latest forecast are set to persist through the rest of the year.
The long-range seasonal outlook released Thursday calls for drought conditions in northern Missouri to remain in place and possibly intensify through the end of the year. Brian Fuchs is with the National Drought Mitigation Center in Lincoln, Nebraska. He says this week's rainfall may bring short-term relief, but not long-term.
Drought conditions are again plaguing the northern half of Missouri, according to the latest U.S. drought monitor report.
A large portion of north central Missouri is experiencing severe drought (D2), with most of the rest of northern Missouri in moderate drought (D1). Also, there's a strip of land stretching from St. Louis to Kansas City to northwest of St. Joseph that's classified as abnormally dry (D0), just one step below drought. Anthony Artusa is with NOAA's Climate Prediction Center at the University of Maryland.
The heavy rains that caused flooding across portions of Missouri this spring have also led to improved soil conditions for crops grown in the Show-Me State.
The exceptionally-wet spring did cause delays in getting corn, cotton and soybeans in the ground. But Bob Garino, Missouri Statistician with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) state office in Columbia, says conditions are much better than a year ago when 2012's drought and heat wave began to take hold.
Two rapid-fire snowstorms belted Kansas with more than 2 feet of snow this week. They caused thousands of accidents and all kinds of hardships — but they also produced very broad smiles from some quarters.
That's because in a place as dry as Kansas has been lately, a blizzard can be a blessing for farmers and ranchers.
Earlier this year shippers feared that the worst drought in decades would slam the brakes on the billion dollar barge shipping industry, but recent heavy rains and snow have raised water levels on the drought starved Mississippi River.
Even though shippers are back to carrying normal loads, American Waterways Operators spokeswoman Ann McCulluh says the industry remains anxious about the future.
“You can bet that we will be watching the forecast, watching the water levels very carefully,” McCulluh said.
The winter storm that dumped several inches of snow and ice across much of Missouri may bring some short-term relief to the state’s drought conditions.
Kelly Smith is Director of Marketing and Commodities for the Missouri Farm Bureau. He says the winter storm arrived on the heels of recent rain events, helping saturate the soil.
“This snow is gonna slowly melt into the ground," Smith said. "We will get some runoff from it in some areas because they got a 10 to 13-inch snow…we had areas in our state as high as 13, maybe even 15, inches up in north of (the) Kansas City area.”