DES MOINES, IA (DTN)--With the current dry weather pattern in the Midwest, the pressure for March and April to produce at least normal rainfall increases, according to Midwest climatologists.

"It is a serious situation," Al Dutcher, Nebraska state climatologist, told DTN.

The dry fall and winter is a continuation for the past three years for Nebraska.

"Since much of the southern half of the state is 12 to 20 inches below normal precipitation over the last three years, it is going take 200% of normal precipitation to undue the damage that has occurred."

Dutcher said, even if it snows, Nebraska soils stand to lose a lot to runoff just to get the profiles built up.

"We had a promising October, but the last 30 to 40 days has not helped," said Dutcher.

In Iowa, a record of consecutive days without measurable precipitation, 45 days set in 1952, was nearly reached this year.

"Until the rain that fell Dec. 17, central Iowa was headed for 37 days without measureable precipitation," said Harry Hillaker, Iowa state climatologist. "This is the second longest streak."

Hillaker said the biggest impact right now is low water supplies for livestock, wells, ponds, rivers and streams.

Long term, Hillaker doesn't see a need to hit the panic button for next spring's soil moisture.

"In reality, the driest parts of the state are four to five inches below normal," said Hillaker. That four to five inches could be made up with normal rains in March and April. But, if those two months don't provide them, there will be more concern."

The 90-day weather outlook is for warmer and drier weather for much of the Midwest, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Dutcher would rather wait and see about that 90-day outlook.

"I am a little hesitant about the forecasters' outlook for the Midwest, because they have missed it before. I do believe the wet 90-day outlook for the southern half of the U.S. is probably correct," he said.

While rivers and streams remain low for Iowa and Nebraska, the same is being said for Illinois, Indiana and Missouri.

Hillaker said, "In eastern Illinois and northern Indiana, river and stream levels are at record low levels for this time of the year."

Meanwhile, the extent of a drought felt this summer by 36% of the U.S. is getting smaller, thanks to El Nino, a weather phenomenon that directed storms this winter along a track across the southern part of the country.

"Unfortunately, the Midwest hasn't seen much improvement," said Hillaker.

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