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SMALLEST DROUGHT AREA IN YEARS IN MIDWEST, PLAINS

The active, wet weather pattern across the Midwest continued this week, with excessive rains across the western Corn Belt in particular but planting progress has only been running slightly behind. And the forecast going forward does not look particularly threatening.

The rains in the Midwest, along with other unusual weather trends such as historic flooding in far southern Brazil, are “largely associated with atmospheric confusion resulting from the demise of El Nino,” World Weather Inc. said in a report on Thursday. A more normal pattern for the season is expected to emerge over the next couple of weeks, it said.

Rainfall totals from Tuesday to Thursday topped 1.5 inches across much of the Corn Belt west of the Mississippi. Totals topped three inches across a swath stretching from eastern Nebraska into Iowa and were accompanied in Iowa by intense tornadoes. But totals have been somewhat erratic; Omaha received more than two inches from one storm, while Lincoln. Neb. received nothing. And while the rains have completely flooded out some fields in the western Corn Belt, Illinois and points east were mostly dry this week. Above-average are expected in the first half of June across the heart of the Corn Belt. With more than three-quarters of the corn crop planted, we are quickly approaching the time of year in which rains do more good than harm.

Most of the middle of the country has seen major improvement in drought conditions with the exception of Kansas, which was still 67% “abnormally dry” or worse as of Tuesday according to the weekly U.S. Drought Monitor. But the High Plains region overall, which extends from Kansas through the Dakotas and includes Colorado, was only 34% abnormally dry, down from 39% the prior week and the lowest percentage since April 2020. In the Midwest region, just 13% was abnormally dry, down from 20.5% the prior week and the lowest percentage in nearly two years.

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