How Dry Is It ?

For the latest drought information in the area, head to the NWS Omaha/Valley drought page.

A moderate to severe drought has taken hold across much of the Midwest region, that has essentially developed within the last 90 days.  Below are images of the national drought status from April 24 and from July 17.  Notice how conditions have dramatically developed, especially across much of the central Plains.

Drought Status April 24, 2012

Drought status April 24 2012
Image courtesy US Drought Monitor.

Drought Status July 17, 2012

Drought Status July 17, 2012
Image courtesy US Drought Monitor.

But just how dry has it been over the previous 90 days across the area?  For the 90 day period April 22 through July 20, precipitation has been generally 25 to 50 percent of normal (see image below) for many areas.  When compared to historical records though for the same period, it has however been much worse in previous years in eastern Nebraska and western Iowa.  In fact, in Omaha, for the 90 day period ending July 20, it ranks as the 20th driest period on record, the 12th driest period on record at Lincoln, and the 7th driest period on record at Norfolk (see tables below).

90 day percent of Normal Precipitation
Image courtesy High Plains Regional Climate Center.

Lowest Total Precipitation for Omaha in inches
Days: 4/22 - 7/20
Length of period: 90 days
Rank  Value  Ending Date
1 3.79 7/20/1910
2 4.05 7/20/1934
3 4.14 7/20/1927
4 5.21 7/20/1974
5 5.90 7/20/1930
6 5.96 7/20/1894
7 5.98 7/20/1933
8 5.99 7/20/1926
9 6.02 7/20/1911
10 6.36 7/20/1912
11 6.67 7/20/1940
12 7.02 7/20/1978
13 7.04 7/20/1922
14 7.23 7/20/1886
15 7.25 7/20/1970
16 7.36 7/20/2006
17 7.58 7/20/1976
18 7.59 7/20/1948
19 7.63 7/20/1916
20 7.65 7/20/2012
Lowest Total Precipitation for Lincoln in inches
Days: 4/22 - 7/20
Length of period: 90 days
Rank  Value  Ending Date
1 3.16 7/20/1934
2 4.20 7/20/1940
3 5.27 7/20/1936
4 5.76 7/20/1901
5 5.91 7/20/1912
6 6.00 7/20/1968
7 6.19 7/20/1988, 7/20/1953
9 6.22 7/20/2006
10 6.40 7/20/1980
11 6.63 7/20/2005
12 6.84 7/20/2012
Lowest Total Precipitation for Norfolk in inches
Days: 4/22 - 7/20
Length of period: 90 days
Rank  Value  Ending Date
1 5.09 7/20/2006
2 5.21 7/20/1968
3 5.28 7/20/1894
4 5.33 7/20/1936
5 5.47 7/20/1910
6 5.75 7/20/1895
7 6.02 7/20/2012

For the month of July, this could end up being one of the driest Julys on record.  Only 0.01" has fallen at Omaha during the month, and only a trace of rain has fallen at both Lincoln and Norfolk.  A cold front moving into the area could bring precipitation to the region Wednesday and Thursday.

Forecast trends for the remainder of the summer and early winter indicate generally above normal temperatures and possibly slightly below normal precipitation. Thus, the 2012 drought is expected to persist, and possibly even get worse in some areas.  Even average rainfall right now would not be enough to bring the area out of drought.

90 Day Temperature Outlook for August, September, and October

90 day temperature outlook
Image courtesy Climate Prediction Center

90 Day Precipitation Outlook for August, September, and October

90 day precipitation outlook
Image courtesy Climate Prediction Center

Link to More Drought Links



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