WE'LL TAKE WHAT WE CAN GET...
Another drought outlook has been issued and with it there are some eye raising trends, especially in eastern Iowa where 25% of the region is in extreme to exceptional drought. It's easy to see why when we take a look at rainfall deficits going back to May 1st. There's a large pocket of 11-14 inch departures over EC and NE Iowa.
These are the reported rain totals since May 1st. Amounts north of I-80 have been quite meager in my local area. The geographic region from Maquoketa to Cedar Rapids on to Waterloo has seen the worst of it.
The latest drought monitor shows extreme drought conditions extending all the way from Minnesota and SW Wisconsin south into eastern Iowa and SW Missouri. 50% of the Midwest region is in moderate to exceptional drought conditions.
Look how things have deteriorated since May 1st around the Midwest. It's been a long dry summer in many areas.
Iowa is one of the states faring the worst with 96% of the state in moderate to exceptional drought.
The most severe category "D4" (rated exceptional drought), has significantly expanded over Iowa with the coverage now the largest on record since the inception of the drought monitor product in the year 2000. You can also see this dry cycle has been with us since mid 2020.
Conditions in Illinois are not as severe with some parts in my far southern counties only rated as abnormally dry.
Clearly, more rain would be welcome in all locations but it looks like the best potential for widespread significant rains will remain just to the west of my area over the next few days. This is quite disappointing considering the strength of the weekend system and the dire need for its rainfall. A few days ago models were bullish that the heavier rain potential was squarely centered on my area. However, as I noted a couple days back, a NW trend in track has shifted the bullseye further west and north. Like the saying goes...in times of drought, signs of precipitation don't pan out.
Despite the northwest track, there will be enough instability and forcing for at least a few showers Friday, particularly in my eastern counties in Illinois. However, these look to be widely scattered and generally on the light side. Overall, most areas will see little if any rainfall further west. As with recent days, there will be periods of clouds mixed with sunshine (enough to keep temperatures above normal, particularly Saturday). Highs should go from the mid to upper 70s Friday to the low 80s Saturday.
Late Saturday night and Sunday a slow moving cold front will make a push into the Mississippi River Valley increasing the forcing for a modestly better chance of showers and perhaps a few storms. This is the best window for rain. However, the system is occluding by then leading to a weakening trend. There should still be enough forcing for some scattered rains but amounts are not what the doctor ordered. We'll take what we can get. Here's what models are suggesting for rain totals Friday-Sunday. These amounts are actually up a bit from previous runs. Totals are likely to be highest west of the Mississippi due to the decrease in strength as the dynamics push east.
The Weather Prediction Center output.
Once this system ejects to the east Monday, the upper air pattern is expected to morph into an omega block featuring ridges over the east and west next week. That is not likely to be a wet pattern but it should be a mild one for a sustained period of time. The jet looks like this at 500mb October 1st.
Here's the 6-10 and 8-14 day temperature departures associated with such a pattern.
That should bring us a nice period of fall weather which incidentally begins Saturday night. The fall equinox occurs at 1:50 AM Saturday night signaling the official start of fall. How time flies. Roll weather...TS
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