MODERATE RISK of Severe Weather Today and a Drought Update
Thursday, July 26th 2012
Thanks to @topekagreg for the picture below, who said:
“Thought I’d pull over and let this storm pass.”
Much Needed Rain
The good news about some of the recent rain is that it is falling in areas that haven’t seen much rain as of late. Unfortunately, we need quite a bit more to end the drought!
Updated Drought Condition
Every Thursday the U.S. Drought Monitor releases its latest drought update. As expected, drought conditions continue to worsen across the central part of the country.
“The July 24 U.S. Drought Monitor showed widespread intensification of drought through the middle of the country, according to the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The map also set a record for the fourth straight week for the area in moderate drought or worse in the 12-year history of the U.S. Drought Monitor.
The July 24 map put 53.44 percent of the United States and Puerto Rico in moderate drought or worse, up from 53.17 percent the week before; 38.11 percent in severe drought or worse, compared with 35.32 a week earlier; 17.2 percent in extreme drought or worse, compared with 11.32 percent the week before; and 1.99 percent in exceptional drought, up from .83 percent the preceding week.”
“Weather Summary: A strong upper-level ridge of high pressure continued to dominate the nation’s weather this U.S. Drought Monitor (USDM) week, bringing well above-normal temperatures to much of the country east of the Rockies. Beneath the core of the high, hot and dry weather baked the central and southern Plains to Ohio Valley. Monsoon showers and thunderstorms brought areas of rain to the West, cool fronts moving along the high’s northern edge triggered scattered showers and thunderstorms in the northern tier states, and a front skirting the high dropped beneficial rain along its eastern and southern peripheries. July 22 U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports indicated that 55 percent of the nation’s pasture and rangeland was in poor to very poor condition, breaking last week’s record. In the Plains and Midwest states, crop losses mounted, ranchers liquidated herds, and trees continued to drop leaves and branches. On July 25, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack designated 76 additional counties in six states as drought disaster areas, bringing the total for the 2012 crop year to 1369 counties across 31 states. Over two dozen large wildfires were burning by the end of the USDM week – most in the West but several in the Plains.”
Drought conditions in the Midwest continue to worsen with over 4% of the area under an EXCEPTIONAL DROUGHT vs. last weeks just under 1%. The EXTREME DROUGHT covers nearly 29% vs. last weeks nearly 12%.
Take a look at Arkansas… more than 1/3 of the state is considered to be in an EXCEPTIONAL DROUGHT vs. last weeks 11%. 100% of the state is abnormally dry and just 3 months ago 0% of the state was abnormally dry!
Precipitation Needed to End Drought
Staggering numbers here, but this is how much rain we need to end the drought. Several locations need more than 1ft. to end the drought!
Low River Levels on Mississippi
“MEMPHIS, TENN. — The Mississippi River’s water level keeps dropping, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Memphis said Wednesday it is using survey boats and dredges to maintain safe navigation.
Meanwhile, river barge and tow boat operators are continuing to lose money as they reduce the amount of material they can safely carry on the river.
The National Weather Service said Wednesday that drought has dropped the river’s summer level in Memphis to about 13 feet below normal, and it is forecast to fall about 2 1/2 feet more by Aug. 22. That would be more than 55 feet lower than the highest reading taken during last year’s near-historic flood.”
“In this July 13, 2012, photo, the Memphis Queen riverboat moves down the Mississippi River in Memphis, Tenn. A year after nearly record floods, the Mississippi River level has dropped so low that it’s beginning to affect commercial operations. Port managers worry that their passages to the river could fill up with silt, and barge operators may have to lighten their loads. (AP Photo/Nikki Boertman) / AP”
Drought Concerns in Kansas City, MO
My old college roommate, Matt Dux, is a forecaster at the NWS in Kansas City, MO and commented on Facebook yesterday about how dry it is there…
“My suspicions of today have come true…105-110, very dry, and very windy conditions…leading to a multiple home fire in an independence subdivision. This drought has transformed this week with the impacts really showing their heads. Ponds drying up, trees dying…also the first reports of trees limbs just falling off…”
Last night they picked up some much needed rain!
“A fairly widespread and much needed rainfall occurred overnight, accompanied by a thunderous applause. From tears of joy to running out in the streets, we’ve heard the great news this morning from several of you. Unfortunately, the drought is no where near over and the echoes of “bring more!!!” will soon be heard. However, let’s celebrate this small victory and hope for more storms later this afternoon. We received about 0.30″ here at the NWS office as of 6 AM.”
Pictured below are my old college roommates from left to right; Dave Pearson hydrologist at the NWS in Omaha, NE; Todd Nelson; Matt Dux forecaster at the NWS in Kansas City, MO
Some Relief on the Way!
NOAA’s HPC 5 day rainfall forecast shows some relief in the drought stricken areas of the central part of the country. Latest model runs suggest nearly 1″ – 2″ of rain possible in those areas, hardly enough to even dent the drought.
Severe Threat Today
The updated severe weather outlook from the Storm Prediction Center shows a MODERATE RISK of severe weather for parts of the Ohio Valley and the Northeast. The primary threat today will be damaging winds, but an isolated tornado can’t be ruled out! This is the first time we’ve seen a MODERATE RISK issued by the SPC in some time.
Below is a more in depth look at the threats for today:
HRRR Radar Simulation
These are updated model runs from earlier today, which is suggesting thunderstorm initiation around early/mid afternoon across the eastern Great Lakes into the Ohio Valley then moving into the Northeast by the evening hours. the graphics below are subject to change!
Radar Simulation by 4pm EDT
Radar Simulation by 9pm EDT
Thanks for checking in on this Thursday, have a great rest of your day!
Don’t forget to check me out on Twitter @TNelsonWNTV