The short to mid-term weather forecast for the drought-stricken Midwest shows few signs of hope for much needed rain, according to Mark Svoboda, climatologist for the National Drought Mitigation Center. The comments were made Thursday in an interview with Mike Adams, host of AgriTalk.
A high pressure system locked in place over the nation’s parched heartland is one of the main factors in the ongoing 2012 drought, according to Svoboda. “The high pressure system is here to stay for some time and we will have triple digit temperatures through next week and perhaps after that,” he says. “The near-term forecast looks horrible.”
From a geographic perspective, the 2012 drought is the most widespread since the 1950’s or even the 1930’s according to Svoboda. “Currently, 64 percent of the lower 48 states is in drought with 42 percent in severe drought,” he says.
Adding to the dire outlook is the fact that the drought conditions are spreading quickly. According to the weekly U.S. drought monitor released July 17, 38 percent of the nation’s corn crop was in poor to very poor condition, compared to 30 percent the previous week, and 30 percent of soybeans were in poor to very poor condition, compared to 27 percent the week before. The nation’s pastures are in even worse condition, with 54 percent of the pasture and rangeland in poor to very poor condition.
According to the climatologist, the preceding dry winter and unusually warm spring set the stage for the 2012 drought. “The dry winter of 2011/2012 and unusually warm spring have exacerbated the effect of the current drought," he said. “”Everything that could go wrong, has gone wrong.”
Certain self-perpetuating characteristics of drought add to the grim outlook. “The high pressure system locks out moisture from the Gulf and with no evaporation occurring from the dry soil, the drought sits there and feeds on itself,” Svoboda says.
The National Drought Mitigation Center, at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, helps people and institutions develop and implement measures to reduce vulnerability to drought. The group focuses on preparedness and risk management rather than crisis management, according to the organization’s Website.