All Weather News

Heat Wave Lasts At Least Another Week, Drought Will Worsen Central Plains

19 Jul 2012, 5:06 am

This Thing Isn’t Over Just Yet. The NOAA map above shows the projected maximum heat index next Tuesday, from 100-105 F. in the Twin Cities, closer to 110-115 at Sioux Falls, a big area from South Dakota to St. Louis to the Carolinas sweltering under a 105-110 F. heat index. Click here to see the 3-7 Day Heat Index Outlook, courtesy of NOAA.

Sweltering Bulls-Eye. NOAA’s CPC shows the center of the heat wave over the Midwest through most of next week. There are some signs that the worst of the heat/drought may shift into the Central Plains by the first week of August. Map above: Ham Weather.

106 F. at St. Louis Wednesday, marking the 8th day this summer of 105+; record is 10 days back in 1934.

1,500. Average number of Americans who perish from the heat every year in the USA. That’s more than die in floods, hurricanes, tornadoes and blizzards combined. In many of these deaths, heat is a force-multiplier, compounding and aggravating other heart or respiratory conditions that ultimately result in death. Details from NOAA below.

Throughout the Midwest, farmers are seeing signs of damaged crops. In the 18 states that produce most of our corn, only 31% of the crops were rated good or excellent this week, that’s down from 40% last week, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This same time last year, 66% of corn crops were rated good or excellent.” – from a CNN article focused on the growing drought; details below. AP Photo: Nati Harnik.

121.3 F. high temperature on July 17 at Marrakesh, Morocco – hottest (reliable) temperature ever recorded. Details from Weather Underground.

Hot Weather Tips. NOAA has a very good link focused on ways of beating the heat and avoiding heat-related ailments. Here’s an excerpt:

  • DO – Slow down, and reduce strenuous activity. Mow the lawn or garden in the early morning or late evening instead of midday.
  • DO – Dress in lightweight, nonrestrictive, light-colored clothing.
  • DO – Drink plenty of water or other nonalcoholic fluids.
  • DO – Eat light, easy-to-digest foods.
  • DO – Seek out shade if you have to be outdoors for extended periods. Spend more time in air-conditioned places.
  • DO – Check on elderly neighbors, friends and relatives to make sure they are okay.
  • DO – When outside, take frequent dips in the ocean or pool, or mist yourself with a water bottle. When inside, take frequent cool baths or showers and use cold compresses to cool off.
  • DO – Apply high-SPF sunscreen frequently when outdoors.
  • DO – Seek immediate medical attention if you experience symptoms of heat illness. (See chart below for symptoms, likely conditions and treatment.)


Stubborn Heat. The massive high pressure bubble perpetually stalled over the Central Plains shows no signs of budging until (maybe) the end of next week. NOAA has issued Heat Advisories from North Dakota to Little Rock, Excessive Heat Warnings posted for Kansas City and southern Illinois and Indiana.

One Week: 832 Warm Weather Records. What’s impressive isn’t just the scope of record highs, but the trends at night – we’re seeing far more (warm) nighttime low records nationwide. Map: Ham Weather


Widespread Drought Threatens U.S. Crops. This is a very good overview of the drought from The Los Angeles Times; here’s an excerpt: “Many cornstalks at the 1,200-acre Laird farm in Waltonville, Ill., had wilted into brown, desiccated rows by the time the governor arrived Monday to survey drought damage. Jim Laird, 71, has been raising corn, soybeans and cattle in southern Illinois all his life, and has never seen a drought this bad. This month, his family chopped down part of the spoiled corn crop to supplement the hay they feed their 150 head of cattle — hay that has become costly because of the drought….The drought gripping the Midwest and about 80% of the country is the most widespread since 1956, stoking massive wildfires and decimating the nation’s breadbasket crops, according to a report released Monday by the National Drought Mitigation Center. Drought conditions led the Department of Agriculture recently to declare natural disasters in more than 1,000 counties in 26 states.”

Photo credit above: “People walk past longnose gars and a catfish on a sand bar at the Platte River near the Louisville state recreation area in Neb., Tuesday, July 17, 2012. Low water flow due to lack of precipitation has exposed large areas of the river bed.” (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

Midwest Drought Forces Nebraska Farms To Halt Irrigation. A shortage of water is compounding the drought-related headaches for farmers in Nebraska; Huffington Post and Reuters have more details:

* Farms told to stop using surface water for irrigation

* Surface water used in only 10 pct of irrigation systems

* Nebraska corn 70 pct silking, when water need is higher

* Crop conditions drop due to worsening drought (Updates with Kansas restrictions)

“More than 1,100 farmers in Nebraska have been ordered by the state’s Department of Natural Resources to halt irrigation of their crops because the rivers from which they draw water have dropped due to a worsening drought.

The orders come as the central United States is enduring the worst drought in a quarter century, which has parched corn and soybean crops and sent prices of both commodities to near-record highs.”

Photo credit above: “The exposed bottom of the Mississippi River is baked and cracked by extreme heat and lack of rain Tuesday, July 17, 2012 near St. Louis. The nation’s widest drought in decades is spreading, with more than half of the continental United States now in some stage of drought and most of the rest enduring abnormally dry conditions.” (AP Photo/Robert Ray)

How The Drought Could Hit Your Wallet. has more on the implications for higher prices for the food we put on our table, here’s an excerpt: “With more than half the country in some state of drought, farmers are feeling the impact on their livelihood and consumers could expect to feel a hit in their wallet when they go to the supermarket soon, experts say. The U.S. is facing the largest drought since the 1950s, the National Climatic Data Center reported Monday, saying that about 55% of the country was in at least moderate short-term drought in June for the first time since December 1956, when 58% of the country was in a moderate to extreme drought. The hot, dry weather in June, which ranked as the third-driest month nationally in at least 118 years, according to the center, made the problem worse. That has left farmers on the edge of their seat worrying about how much damage their harvests will sustain and how much of their livelihood they may stand to lose this year.”

Photo credit above: “Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack talks about the drought during the press briefing at the White House in Washington, Wednesday, July 18, 2012.” (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

How Droughts Will Reshape The United States. How will an increase in drought (frequency and intensity) impact the USA? Here’s an excerpt of timely article at The Washington Post:

2) Current droughts may be hurting U.S. corn yields, but they’re not yet causing a global food crisis. The United States is the world’s largest exporter of corn and a key supplier of soybeans. And right now, U.S. corn and soy production appear to be wilting under the heat—the Department of Agriculture has cut its corn-production estimate by 12 percent. If output ends up falling, that would raise the price for corn, for biofuels, as well as for beef (since corn is used to feed livestock).
More broadly, however, analysts still don’t think we’re facing a situation like 2007 and 2008, when skyrocketing food prices triggered riots in dozens of countries from Haiti to Egypt. That’s because global wheat and rice supplies are holding fairly steady, at least for now.

3) Climate change may already be making some U.S. droughts more likely. Given that the United States experienced even more severe droughts in the 1930s and 1950s, when carbon emissions were lower than they are today, one might assume that modern U.S. droughts have little to do with global warming.”

* latest interactive U.S. Drought Monitor from NOAA here.

Drought Worsens Over Plains – Mid Atlantic Soaking. NOAA’s latest QPF (5-day rainfall outlook) prints out some 2-4″ amounts from Mobile to Richmond, Washington D.C. and Philadelphia, but not a drop of rain from Nebraska southward to much of Texas.

One Week’s Worth Of Storm Reports. Over 2,000 storm observations have been reported in the last 7 days, including 3 tornadoes in the Red River Valley. Map above courtesy of NOAA and Ham Weather.

Thursday Severe Threat. A nagging frontal boundary creates the convergence necessary for more strong/severe storms from St. Louis to Indianapolis, Louisville and Pittsburgh later today, according to NOAA SPC.

Shelf Cloud Time Lapse. Thanks to the Tampa office of the National Weather Service for capturing a wild T-storm shelf cloud that raced across the Riverview neighborhood early Wednesday. The webcam was on a 1,600 foot tower. Kudos to WeatherNation TV meteorologist Rob Koch for passing this along.

“Ask Paul.” Weather-related Q&A:


How come these big rain events always seem to cut off just north of my neighborhood or happen south of the Minnesota River? I live near 98th and Penn in Bloomington and I swear so often, when these big rain events move into the Twin Cities area, the southern cut-off to the rain seems to be just north of me, somewhere around 494 to say, around 86th street or the northern cut-off is the river. I am pretty sure there is no real reason, but I get frustrated when I hear the weather guys talk about the heavy rain “we” had today, and I get no rain or, like this morning, at best a minute or two of medium rain. Then I take a look at the radar and the whole TC area is getting heavy rain. Unless it is some huge drawn-out rain event like the 8-9″ we got a month or so ago over those couple of days, it really does seem to always go north, or, sometimes, south of the Minnesota River.

As I said earlier, I am sure it is just luck of the draw, but it really seems like my house is sitting in some sort of an “arid black hole” that the rains fear to enter.

If you have any specific reason why this happens, I would be interested in hearing it. Otherwise thanks for letting me vent. 🙂


Craig Brown

Hi Craig – I feel your pain. Vent away, but I can assure you that there is no meteorological conspiracy in play. It falls under the heading of fickle summer convection. It’s frustrating: town A can pick up 2″ of rain, while 5 miles down the road the sun is out and locals are wondering what all the fuss is about! The metro is warmer and drier than the outlying suburbs, which may inhibit the smallest showers – but has little effect when a massive squall line of severe storms roar across town. I haven’t seen any convincing research that small geographic effects, like living near a river valley, will make much of a statistical difference in how much summer rain ultimately falls. Rain “shadows” form downwind of mountain peaks out west, but we don’t have the geography (or large enough lakes nearby) to fundamentally nudge Mother Nature in one direction or another. Hang in there – it will (eventually) rain, but I don’t see widespread/soaking rains looking out the next week or so.






In regards to the weather column in today’s paper, I salute you for “toughing it out” without air conditioning.



My husband and I have made the conscious decision to live without ac in our home.  See my article, “Assuming good health, it’s hip to be hot,” in the Opinion Exchange section, July 6, 2012 in your paper, the Minneapolis Star Tribune.  Also see the follow-up letter to the editor by Jay Thacker in the July 10 edition.



Your decision to live without air conditioning shows your mature and intelligent recognition that what we choose to do today has lasting effects tomorrow and beyond.  Keep up the good work!” 



Shirley Erstad



Thanks Shirley – I’m no martyr, but the longer I go without A/C the more I feel I really don’t need it. We open up all our windows, crank up the fans, sit outside in the shade until the house cools down. I still like the idea of geothermal, which doesn’t require significant energy derived from fossil fuels. It’s one of the few true green no-brainers out there today.



Shelf Cloud. Thanks to Kim Coy-Kinney who snapped this shot near Cynthiana, Kentucky Wednesday evening. Photo via WeatherNation TV’s Facebook page.


Enlightening. Here’s another impressive pic, courtesy of Charlie Gouin in Rhode Island, via FB.


What Happened To The Falls? No, this doesn’t look anything like the classic postcard-worthy waterfalls at Yosemite. Details from Yosemite National Park, via Facebook: “On today’s date last year, following a very heavy winter snowpack, the Merced River was flowing at a high of 1,850 cubic feet per second (cfs). Today’s high flow (following a very dry winter) was 70 cfs!


Ken Jennings Shocker: Mt. Everest Is Not The Highest Point On Earth. Say what? Yes, my goal with the blog is to include stories that make me do a double-take, hoping some percentage of dear readers also find a few of these stories vaguely interesting. Here’s an except from a shocker from Conde Naste Traveler: “If there’s one thing everyone knows about mountains—and given the state of geography education today, that may be a pretty accurate estimate—it’s that Mount Everest, in the Himalayas, is the Earth’s highest point. But what if it wasn’t? What if Everest, with its famous 29,029-foot peak, was actually dwarfed by a mountain you’ve probably never even heard of, an Ecuadorian volcano called Chimborazo?



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Welcome to the WeatherNation blog. Every day I sift through hundreds of stories, maps, graphics and meteorological web sites, trying to capture some of the most interesting weather nuggets, the stories behind the forecast. I’ll link to stories and share some of the web sites I use. I’m still passionate about the weather, have been ever since Tropical Storm Agnes flooded my home in Lancaster, PA in 1972. I’ve started 5 weather-related companies. “EarthWatch” created the world’s first 3-D weather graphics for TV stations – Steven Spielberg used our software in “Jurassic Park” and “Twister”. My last company, “Digital Cyclone”, personalized weather for cell phones. “My-Cast” was launched in 2001 and is still going strong on iPhone, Android and Blackberry. I sold DCI to Garmin in 2007 so I could focus on my latest venture: WeatherNation. I also write a daily weather column for The Star Tribune And if you’re on Twitter, you’ll find me @pdouglasweather

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