Flash Flood Sure, But Flash Drought?

by Ed R Published 7.20.2012

This year’s mild winter, low soil moisture and an early June heat wave have created the perfect “heat storm”. In their June “Global Analysis Report” the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) has determined that this June was the warmest in U.S. history since 1880, and was the warmest month on record for the entire northern hemisphere.

Illustration of popcorn popping right off the stalkA new term has been coined by the NOAA. If you are encountering a condition where there is a sudden unexpected, lingering burst of high temperatures (90+), low humidity and lots of sunshine (not a cloud in the sky), then you are in a “flash drought”.

This condition is occurring in many parts of the Midwestern United States. Hardest hit is the Corn Belt, Missouri in particular. According to the Drought Monitor (a weekly report of drought conditions throughout the United States), approximately two thirds of the Midwest is in some stage of drought.

Affected are the major staple crops such as corn and soybeans. The drought hit when the young plants were most susceptible. This has lead to decreased corn production. Forbes reports that grain prices have risen approximately 47% since mid-June on the Chicago Board of Trade.

Water Districts throughout the Midwest have asked their customers to use water wisely and implement voluntary water conservation measures. If this continues then mandatory measures won’t be far behind.

Here in Northeast Ohio, June wasn’t so bad, but July is getting nasty. Most all of the lawns are some shade of brown, and on the home front (my backyard) despite my best efforts, the zucchini are pretty much toast and the cucumbers are withering away before really bearing much fruit. The tomatoes and especially the peppers however are growing through the roof. Win some lose some I guess.


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