THE SUMMER AHEAD...
I hate to beat a dead horse but Tuesday was very much like Monday. Hot and muggy with a sprinkling of showers and storms. Again, a few spots had some beneficial downpours but overall what rain fell barely settled the dust in the majority of the area.
I did get this picture from old pals Ed and Cathy Meyer who live near Edgington, just south of the Quad Cities. A storm there Monday dropped nearly 3 inches of rain in less than two hours. It was coming down, a real frog strangler. Too bad that wasn't all snow Ed. I could see you breaking trail in that powder.
This graphic shows precipitation departures (above and below) around the cornbelt since April 1st. You'll notice much of SE Iowa and WC Illinois have surpluses on the order of 1-3 inches. The rest of my area including northern Illinois and much of Iowa has really struggled to get rain with deficits over that period in the 3-6" range.
So, it comes as no surprise that much of the meaningful rain the past couple of days, scattered as it was, fell in the areas that needed it the least. That's usually how it is in drought years and 2021 looks like it could be one of those in much of Iowa and some surrounding parts of Illinois and Wisconsin. Here's the Doppler rainfall estimates from Monday. Tuesday the rains were even more sparse.
It's gotten so bad around Des Moines that this year is currently running in the 90th percentile for dryness. It's the worst year there since the late 80s (more than 30 years ago).
What's even worse is the rainfall outlook off Tuesdays EURO. It shows 15 day rainfall departures of 2-3 inches throughout my area. In fact, the entire Midwest is shown well below normal on rain during that two week period. This is becoming a real concern, especially for agricultural interests.
Dry air has a tendency to enhance warm temperatures and if this region of dry air continues to expand as expected, it will increase the potential for above normal readings this summer. The trade off is the fact that humidity will likely be lower which could serve to keep us out of those really wicked days where heat index values reach 100-110 with dew points 78-82.
So while I do think summer is shaping up to be a warm one, I anticipate periods due to northwest flow aloft where some nice breaks come with cool fronts that drop moisture levels well below what is typical for July and August. Unfortunately, that is not a recipe for widespread rain. Hopefully what we do get is timely but we are soon to enter the time of year where the rains become more and more scattered and of the hit and miss variety. The remedy for that is to get into a couple stretches where we reside near the ring of fire and can get some nocturnal thunderstorm complexes (known as MCS's). They can produce swaths of 1 to 3 inch rains where they set-up. No way to predict where those will be this early in the game but they can be game changers.
I'll be the first to say that long range forecasting is extremely challenging and dare I say, sometimes not much more that a flip of the coin. However this year, I do think chances are moderate to high that a warm (not necessarily hot) dry summer is in the offering for much of the Midwest. Some areas will fare better than others in the rainfall department. That's the way it always works whether the year is wet or dry. But at least for now, that's what the summer trends are pointing to in my crystal ball.
Meantime, Wednesday promises to be another warm sultry day with isolated to at best widely scattered thunderstorms. Most areas will stay rain free. Highs in most spots will be in the upper 80s to near 90. Welcome to summer and roll weather...TS