Fundamentally Speaking

Contrast in U.S. Weather

Joel Karlin
By  Joel Karlin , DTN Contributing Analyst
Chart by Joel Karlin, DTN Contributing Analyst

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in its State of the Climate report for May 2021 indicated that last month the precipitation total for the contiguous U.S. was 2.94 inches, 0.03 inch above average, and ranking in the middle third of the 127-year period of record.

The spring precipitation total was 7.53 inches, 0.41 inch below average, and ranking in the driest third of the March-May record and was the driest spring since 2006.

The year-to-date precipitation total was 11.65 inches, 0.74 inch below average, and ranking in the driest third of the 127-year record.

This was the driest such year-to-date period since 2012.

Over the past week we have seen a number of references to both 2012 and 1988, two of the worst drought years in U.S. history, as the moisture situation in the Northern Plains, NW Corn Belt and areas of the Lake states remains dire.

Meanwhile an interesting story in itself (and perhaps not getting enough attention due to the concern up north and west) is areas in the Delta and into the Southern Plains remain very wet with the NWS saying that additional heavy rainfall is likely over the next few days across the south-central U.S.

This is already causing some problems with wheat with some of the crop sprouting and other areas actually drowned out.

The graphic shows cumulative precipitation for the first five months of the year for the top 21 corn and soybean growing states with three just one of the top 18 corn or soybean states and 15 others top producers of both for both 2020 and 2021 on the left hand axis in inches.

On the right-hand axis is the percent that 2021 Jan-May precipitation is above or below the average 1960-2020 Jan-May precipitation.

At the bottom of the chart is the rank of 2021 Jan-May precipitation from 1960 to 2021 with a 1 ranking meaning this was the wettest January-May period since 1960 and a low of 62 meaning this was the driest January-May period since 1960.

Seeing that MI had its second driest Jan-May period since 1960 and ND the third driest and IN, IA, OH, PA, SD and WI also notably short on moisture so far this year as again the Northern Plains, NW Corn Belt and areas of the Lake states really under the gun.

On the other hand the rather dramatic improvement in the U.S. 2021 winter wheat crop linked to very good rains so far this year in Plains states of CO, KS, NE and TX with Delta and Missouri Valley states such as Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri and Tennessee are actually quite saturated.


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