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After an extended absence, rainstorms have returned to the central Midwest, welcome news to many a farmer and gardener who for weeks watched the skies deliver an unending supply of sunshine. Despite the recent rains, drought conditions remain in place areawide as evidenced by the latest drought monitor. There's still some work that needs to be done to beat this. Be that as it may, there has been some improvement. More on that in a minute. First, the latest drought outlook showing much of the Midwest in moderate to extreme drought conditions.

Compared to June 27th, you can see needed improvement in my southern counties but a slight expansion of severe drought in my northern counites. Of note is southern Wisconsin where extreme drought has exploded over the past two weeks.

To prove my point that rains have returned, here's the rainfall totals compiled since the beginning of July. A solid swath of 2-5 inch rains shows up from SE Iowa northeast to Chicago.

In those areas, rainfall was more than twice the mean for that period. Further northwest the news is not so good with amounts about half of what's expected.

The dry weather is having an impact on crop development around the region. Across the state of Illinois, 60% of corn is only in fair to very poor condition.

In Iowa 40% of corn is in fair to very poor condition.

Beans in Illinois are 63% fair to very poor condition.

In Iowa beans are 44% fair to poor condition.

It's also interesting to note that going back 20 years, agricultural impacts from drought appear cyclical with major drought impacts occurring in ten year increments, 2003, 2013, and 2023. An intriguing trend.

Be that as it is, a cyclonic NW flow driven by a closed low over SC Canada, will continue to support the passage of upper air disturbances and rain chances from time to time into at least Monday of next week. One such disturbance popped up late Thursday afternoon producing scattered thunderstorms (mainly north of I-80). Some gusty winds up to 40mph were noted along with some brief but heavy downpours. In general rainfall amounts were light 1/10th of an inch or less. However, several of the stronger updrafts produced locally higher totals up to 1/2 inch in a very short period of time.

Going forward, a similar set-up exists through Monday with hit and miss thunderstorms possible everyday, especially in the afternoon and evening. Many spots will see little rain but where the stronger updrafts develop, some brief but heavy downpours will make their presence known. Essentially, the pattern is unsettled but challenging in the sense storms will be spotty with some areas coming up empty while others pick up more drought denting rains. Here's what models are suggesting for rain totals Friday through Monday. Odds are about 50/50 that any one spot will see more than 1/3 of an inch of rain the next 72 hours. Roughly, it appears the southern half of the area has the best chance of seeing the larger amounts.



The Canadian 10k GEM


Beyond Monday, the overall pattern exhibits little change which means the summer heat mid July is noted for is unlikely in the 6-10 day time frame. Rainfall is not likely to be heavy but it does appear the odds favor at least normal rainfall, a threshold most of us would welcome considering the dryness of the previous 3 months. Happy Friday and roll weather...TS



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