Expanding Drought, Hot July

The main running theme weather news since the start of July has been the heat and dry weather, particularly in the Midwest.  For us in Wisconsin, it has continued to be a tale of the have and havenots from north to south with rainfall, which has had a direct effect on the expansion of the drought conditions in the past two weeks.

It should be noted that there have been a few rounds of showers and storms that have impacted the southern part of Wisconsin since July 10th, however when one compares the numbers since June 1st and the many days of highs soaring into the 90s and even around 100, that moisture in the soil has quickly evaporated.  Check out the side by side comparison from July 10th to July 24th of the drought conditions in the Badger State.

For the most part, not much has changed for folks in the northern third of the state where there has continued to be ample rounds of showers and storms, keeping rainfall amounts close to if not a little above average.  The story gets grimmer the farther south you head.  In central Wisconsin, the Abnormally Dry and Moderate Drought conditions have expanded north, with many brown lawns and fields to be found as one heads south from Wausau to Wisconsin Rapids, Stevens Point, Necedah and Wild Rose. Also very noticeable is the introduction of Extreme Drought conditions from Prairie Du Chien to Wisconsin Dells and points on east including Madison and Milwaukee.  Statistically speaking the drought conditions break down like this in Wisconsin:

Abnormally Dry: 59.4%
Moderate Drought: 46.3%
Severe Drought: 35.2%
Extreme Drought: 19.7%

Meantime, here's a comparison of rainfall along with surplus/deficits since June 1st:

Rhinelander:  7.93"  (+0.73")
Wausau:        6.73"  (-0.64")
Eau Claire:    5.20"  (-2.03")
La Crosse:    5.24"   (-2.54")
Madison:       4.18"   (-3.91")
Milwaukee:   3.58"   (-3.43")

Compared to two weeks ago on July 12th when I composed the previous blog, the rainfall shortage has decreased for the cities in southern Wisconsin.  Although this has been a welcomed sign, there still needs to be a whole lot more rain to get the crops back close to where they should be for this point of the growing season.

There are promising trends in the outlook temperature and rainfall-wise over the next 7-10 days as the hottest weather appears to remain to the southwest of Wisconsin, while showers & storms are anticipated to be more common.  It is always important to note that too much rain in a 24-48 hour period can be just as bad as no rain at all, because a parched ground can still lead to a heavy rainfall of over say 3-5" running off, instead of being absorbed into the ground.

As for temperatures, much of the region has exceeded the average number of 90 degree or higher days.  Here's where we stand as of July 26th for the year:

Wausau                 12 Days  (11 Days in July ties for most w/ 1988)
Rhinelander             5 Days
Marshfield              10 Days
Stevens Point        10 Days
Wisconsin Rapids  24 Days

The remainder of July may feature the chance for temps to reach 90 once again and certainly with still August to go, more hot weather is possible.

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