Bloomberg News

Midwest Rains Won’t Dent Drought or Help Crops

July 25, 2012

Midwest Rains Won’t Dent Drought or Help Crops, Forecaster

A boat sits in a dry section of the Morse Reservoir, one of three reservoirs which supply water to nearby Indianapolis, in Cicero, Indiana. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

The Midwest, where record amounts of rain fell in some places yesterday, may remain abnormally dry through the first week of August and the moisture probably won’t be enough to help drought conditions there, forecasters said.

Flood advisories were still in force in North Dakota and Minnesota following the thunderstorms, according to the National Weather Service. The storms were local and didn’t extend across the rest of the region.

It’s possible rain will fall across a much larger area, including Iowa and Illinois, through the next week, said Joel Widenor, of Commodity Weather Group LLC in Bethesda, Maryland.

“This will ease moisture stress a bit, temporarily, in these areas, but will be insufficient for a major turnaround in soil moisture,” said Widenor, co-founder of the company.

Corn and soybean crops are in their worst state since 1988 as drought covers at least 56 percent of the contiguous 48 U.S. states. The lack of a soaking rain in the forecast and the persistence of temperatures 5 to 8 degrees Fahrenheit (2.8 to 4.4 Celsius) above normal until at least Aug. 8 have contributed to a rise in prices.

The U.S. Drought Monitor, which measures the extent of drought nationwide, is scheduled to release an update tomorrow.

As of July 22, 26 percent of U.S. corn and 31 percent of soybeans were in good to excellent condition, the lowest for the date since 1988, according to the Agriculture Department.

In Fargo, North Dakota, 2.35 inches (6 centimeters) of rain fell yesterday an all-time high for the day that broke the old mark set in 1993, according to the Weather Service. A daily record 1.69 inches fell in Minneapolis, according to the agency. The rain caused minor flooding.

Iowa Heat

Farther south, in Des Moines, Iowa, today’s high temperature is expected to reach 104 degrees and there is a slight chance of thunderstorms later today, according to the Weather Service. Chicago may reach 99.

While the heat remains fixed over the Midwest, there is a possibility that temperatures will rise about 3 degrees above normal in the U.S. Northeast from Aug. 4 to Aug. 8, according to Commodity Weather Group President Matt Rogers.

Computer modeling shows another heat wave may strike the East Coast during the week of Aug. 6, he said.

Heat in the large cities along the East Coast raises demand for electricity as people turn to air conditioners to cool off. The increase raises prices on the spot markets and for the fuels, such as natural gas, used to generate power.

The normal average temperature in New York for Aug. 1 is 78, according to MDA EarthSat Weather in Gaithersburg, Maryland. It’s 74 in Boston; 80 in Washington; 85 in Houston; 76 in Chicago; 80 in Atlanta; 67 in Seattle and 76 in Burbank, California.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian K. Sullivan in Boston at bsullivan10@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Bill Banker at bbanker@bloomberg.net


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