This Week's Drought Summary (7/18)

July 18, 2019


Hurricane Barry made landfall in southern Louisiana on July 13, delivering locally heavy showers and a modest storm surge but largely sparing crops and communities in the path of the poorly organized storm. Once inland, Barry drifted northward and was quickly downgraded to a tropical storm and—by July 14—a tropical depression. Outside of Barry’s sphere of influence, locally heavy showers dotted the Southeastern and Mid-Atlantic States, sparking local flooding. Locally heavy rain also soaked portions of the North, with some of the highest totals reported across the northern half of the Plains and the upper Midwest. Many other areas of the country, including a large expanse of the West and parts of the southern Plains and the Midwest, experienced warm, dry weather. In fact, near- or above-normal temperatures dominated the country, as mid-summer heat began to build. Areas affected by Barry’s remnants, including the mid-South, remained somewhat cooler due to cloudy, showery weather. In part due to mid-July heat, short-term dryness was of great concern across the lower Midwest, where compaction, crusting, and dryness was reported in previously saturated topsoils.


Abnormal dryness (D0) has begun to develop in parts of southern New England and environs. On July 14, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported topsoil moisture 95% short in Connecticut. Based on short-term precipitation deficits and low streamflow values, a spot of D0 was introduced in western sections of Connecticut and Massachusetts, as well as a tiny sliver of eastern New York. From June 1 – July 16, rainfall in Hartford, Connecticut, totaled just 2.71 inches (43% of normal). During the same 46-day period, Poughkeepsie, New York, received 3.85 inches (58% of normal).


Pockets of dryness (D0) and moderate drought (D1) persisted from the Carolinas southward, with some areas receiving heavy showers and other remaining mostly dry. A couple of small areas of severe drought (D2) stretched from northwestern Florida to southwestern Georgia, including portions of southeastern Alabama. Showers associated with the remnants of Hurricane Barry were heaviest across western Alabama. In southeastern Alabama, however, Dothan’s rainfall from June 1 – July 16 totaled 4.83 inches (55% of normal). On July 14, USDA reported that topsoil moisture was 41% very short to short in Georgia and 30% very short to short in Alabama. On the same date in North Carolina, 30% of the corn for grain was rated in very poor to poor condition.


Hurricane Barry erased dryness (D0) from Louisiana and nearly so from Mississippi. There was also a reduction in D0 coverage in Tennessee. Meanwhile, hot, dry weather covered much of southern Texas, leading to expansion of dryness (D0) and moderate to severe drought (D1 to D2). July 11 featured a daily-record high in Brownsville, Texas (100°F). Elsewhere in Texas, Corpus Christi posted three consecutive daily-record highs (101, 101, and 103°F) from July 11-13. Brownsville noted another daily-record high, 102°F, on July 13.


The Midwest remained free of drought, but several areas were being watched for possible future introduction of abnormal dryness (D0). By July 14, USDA reported that topsoil moisture ranged from 19 to 26% very short to short in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, and Ohio. Due to antecedent wetness resulting in soil compaction, as well as late-planted crops such as corn and soybeans exhibiting poor root development, drought-related impacts could develop very quickly during the summer of 2019. During the last 2 weeks, mostly dry weather has prevailed in a broad area centered on northern Missouri and southern Iowa; this area and other dry Midwestern pockets will be closely monitored. Meanwhile, upper reaches of the Midwest received heavy showers and thunderstorms, which resulted in a reduction in the coverage of abnormal dryness (D0) across northern sections of Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.

High Plains

Heavy showers and thunderstorms sweeping across North Dakota eradicated severe drought (D2) and reduced the coverage of moderate drought (D1) and abnormal dryness (D0). In the Dakotas, daily-record amounts for July 9 totaled 3.12 inches in Williston, North Dakota, and 1.29 inches in Watertown, South Dakota. The remainder of the High Plains remained free of dryness and drought.