Southeast Missouri drought goes from 'severe' to 'extreme'

Sunday, June 24, 2012
This screen shot shows the latest U.S. Drought Monitor classifications for Missouri.

Southeast Missouri's drought continues with no substantial relief in sight.

On Thursday the latest U.S. Drought Monitor was released, and the severity of drought in Southeast Missouri and Southern Illinois was changed from "severe" to "extreme," indicating worsening conditions.

David Humphrey, lead forecaster for the National Weather Service office in Paducah, Ky., said the drought continues to worsen as parched crops languish in fields around the country.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, the National Drought Mitigation Center, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Department of Commerce release a weekly national drought map called the U.S. Drought Monitor. The weekly updated map organizes areas into six categories: no drought, abnormally dry, moderate drought, severe drought, extreme drought and exceptional drought. As of Thursday's map release, most of Southeast Missouri, including Cape Girardeau, Scott, Mississippi, New Madrid, Stoddard and nearly all of Butler, Bollinger and Wayne counties are all in an extreme drought. Severe to extreme droughts are occurring in Perry, Pemiscot and Madison counties.

Just one week previous, on June 12, none of these counties were listed as being in extreme drought. The counties listed in severe drought were listed instead as experiencing a moderate drought.

The Midwest map can be viewed at; the map includes Missouri and surrounding states.

Since the beginning of 2012, the Cape Girardeau area has received 11.5 inches of rain, according to a National Weather Service report. The average rainfall in Cape Girardeau for this point of the year is 23.65 inches, more than twice this year's current total.

Cape Girardeau's total rainfall for June is 1.37 inches, less than the average 2.55 inches.

"Yesterday's short rain wasn't near substantial enough to have any impact on the drought," Humphrey said of storms that rolled through the area Thursday.

Cape Girardeau received 0.11 inches of rainfall Thursday.

There is a small chance of rainfall during the latter part of this week, Humphrey said, though he didn't expect it to be substantial. The drought is taking a toll on lawns and crops. Water usage is up in Cape Girardeau, likely in part because of the need to provide more water to parched lawns and gardens.

"We're pumping right at 8 million gallons per day, give or take about 100,000," said Alliance Water Resources manager Kevin Priester. Alliance Water Resources provides water for the city of Cape Girardeau. Priester said average consumption is around 6 million gallons per day.

Priester said the consumption increase is likely a result of increased watering due to scarce rainfall and high heat.

Chris Grojean, county director of the Scott County office of the USDA's Farm Services Agency said his organization has had a lot of calls pertaining to the drought from local farmers.

"Right now we don't have a disaster declaration, but we're having a meeting next week and one is expected," Grojean said. This week, the Scott County FSA, other government entities and local farmers will meet to discuss the effects of the drought, Grojean said. The results of that meeting will influence whether a disaster declaration is issued for the drought in Scott County.

Grojean said that nonirrigated, recently planted, crops such as soybeans had been most affected, with corn a close second.

"Crops need the rain most when they're young. This is a crucial time," Grojean said.


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