Latest Seasonal Assessment - Dryness and drought, exacerbated by above-normal temperatures, have been increasing both in extent and intensity across much of the central and northern U.S.
Based upon the July 10 U.S. Drought Monitor, nearly 61 percent of the contiguous U.S. was in drought (D1-D4), the highest such value for the U.S. Drought Monitor since its inception in 2000.
The drought and heat arrived at a critical time for Midwestern agriculture, especially corn. The combination of heat and dryness has severely reduced the quality and quantity of the corn and soybean crop, with 38 percent of the corn and 30 percent of the soybeans rated as poor or very poor as of July 15 by NASS/USDA.
Some states, such as Kentucky, Missouri, and Indiana, had over 70 percent of their corn adversely rated. Unfortunately, drought is expected to develop, persist, or intensify across these areas, and temperatures are likely to average above normal.
Some widely-scattered relief may come in the form of cold front passages or organized thunderstorm clusters (MCSs), but widespread relief for much of the area is not expected. In the Southeast, recent widespread thunderstorm activity has slightly eased drought there, and the 3-month outlook favors increased odds for above normal precipitation along the central Gulf. This is due to the greater likelihood of a tropical system affecting these areas and from sea-breeze triggered thunderstorms.
Therefore, some improvement is expected across the Deep South, from coastal Texas eastward to South Carolina. Across the Southwest, the odds favor an active (wet) southwest monsoon in both the 1- and 3-month precipitation outlooks. As a result, improvement is anticipated across much of Arizona and western New Mexico as the summer monsoon continues, with some improvement in other parts of the region. Drought persistence is the best bet across the remaining portions of the Western U.S. since late summer and early fall are typically dry. In Hawaii, subnormal seasonal rainfall is expected which should maintain drought on the leeward (west) sides while expanding it toward the windward (east) sides.
Lastly, an El Niño Watch continues, with the forecaster consensus reflecting increased chances of an El Niño beginning in July-September.
Forecaster: D. Miskus
Next Outlook issued: August 2, 2012 at 8:30 AM EDT