Ag Weather Forum

Dynamic Atmosphere Eases Midwest Dryness

Bryce Anderson
By  Bryce Anderson , Ag Meteorologist Emeritus
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Radar at midday Monday showed thunderstorms moving through recently dry areas of Illinois, with some promise of working into Indiana as well. (DTN graphic)

The weekend of Aug. 9-11 brought heavy rain to the Northern and Central Plains, with migration into the western and central Midwest. It serves as a reminder that the 2019 crop year has the potential to bring wet conditions in a big hurry. Rainfall totals of 1 to 3 inches were noted from eastern Montana to south-central Illinois by midday Aug. 12.

The heavy rain occurred in areas that have a history of such events. No one has forgotten what happened back in spring 2019 (how could we?). But, the development of this latest rainfall happening is still noteworthy. It happened because of several features all working together:

1) Gulf of Mexico moisture circulating into the interior United States around a large upper-level high pressure dome in southeastern Texas.

2) Additional moisture brought in from the eastern Pacific Ocean due to monsoonal airflow in the southwestern U.S.

3) A cool frontal boundary in the northern Rockies beginning the storm process, and with the mechanism relocating east and southeast over and over again.

Once again, the rainfall amounts are not insignificant. One to 3 inches of rain around mid-August goes straight to filling-stage row crops -- barring severe wind or hail, of course. Such an event is a real pick-me-up at this point in the growing season.

It needs to be emphasized that not all areas of U.S. crop country shared in this rainfall. The southeastern half of the Plains, Delta, and Southeast are being left out, with stressful heat the rule for these areas. But, in the Midwest and the northern half of the Plains, Aug. 9-12 made a beneficial difference.

Bryce Anderson can be reached at

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