Conditions in Missouri Continue to Favor Drought

A recent update on the status of drought conditions in Missouri says that despite some mid-March rain showers, conditions across the state continue to favor drought development. The report, issued by the U.S. Drought Monitor, says that all but two counties in Missouri remain in drought—a condition described as extreme or exceptional—and that the state has seen virtually no improvement since last month’s report was issued.

Rainfall Totals
Most of southeast Missouri received less than one inch of rain during June, according to data collected by members of a cooperative rainfall network. The northeast part of Missouri has fared better—Jackson County saw six inches fall during June, while Ste. Genevieve and St. Louis Counties saw three inches and nearly two inches, respectively. About 14 inches were recorded statewide for last month. In May, only about half an inch fell statewide; average rainfall for that month is about 2 1⁄2 inches throughout the state. The winter was also drier than usual: From December through April, Missouri averaged just over 7 inches of precipitation per month. During a typical year, it receives more than 9 inches per month during that period.

Snowpack Levels
The most recent snowpack data from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) shows that snowpack levels have fallen drastically. Snowpack measurements are important because they determine spring runoff, which is critical for water supplies across much of Missouri. Currently, readings are as low as they’ve been in over 20 years! Hydrologists believe these low readings will continue through April and remain unchanged even into May. That means that our state may experience record-low stream flows during the upcoming summer months. We’ll keep you updated on conditions here at Quikwriting, but it looks like we could be facing another summer of drought conditions in Missouri. Stay tuned!

Water Supply Situation
The winter precipitation we experienced was far below average for most of Missouri. Statewide, we ended up with 51% of normal snowfall. This is well below last year’s level of 90%. As a result, streamflow into reservoirs and ground water levels are well below normal. Last year at this time streams were running clear at more than one-third of stations sampled. Today they are running clear at less than 10 percent of those same sites. Groundwater levels have also fallen by an average of over five feet since January 1st. If you have not done so already, it is time to take action on your irrigation system or face serious consequences later in the summer when temperatures increase and soils dry out.

What it Means For You
If you live in Missouri, unfortunately, you’re probably feeling a little hot and parched these days. While we would like to tell you that everything will be okay and it will rain eventually, unfortunately that’s not always how nature works. There are some things you can do now though, as opposed to waiting for mother nature. If possible, water your garden during times of early morning or late evening when temperatures are cooler and wind speeds have decreased making evaporation slower. Also, if you have a sprinkler system set up on your lawn or garden make sure it is adjusted so it isn’t watering too much at one time. Over watering is just as bad as under watering. Another thing you can do is check with local businesses such as nurseries or home improvement stores about purchasing moisture-retaining mulch to place around trees and plants near your residence.

A Final Word
The evidence is clear. Severe drought conditions have covered almost 80 percent of Missouri for more than a year, and these dry conditions are forecasted to continue throughout 2016 and into 2017. But how did we get here? What factors contribute to such a dire outlook? And how can state officials adapt their response strategies? The following analysis explains it all. (This content will be pulled from past posts that you’ve written on weather patterns in Missouri.) A Note on How This Will Be Used: Our goal with your work as an intern isn’t just to meet quota; rather, it’s to provide valuable insight for our readership so they know what’s going on in our state and can take action accordingly. That said, there may be times when we pull content from articles like this one that address broad trends or changes in weather patterns across Missouri—but other times when we publish something very specific about events happening right now.

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