Drought conditions looking back and ahead

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COLUMBIA - The weather in 2018 has been nothing short of extreme. From a long and cold winter, to the driest April, skipping spring and right into the hottest May and the fourth hottest June, along with flooding at the end of June due to significant rainfall for only a narrow portion of mid-Missouri... this year has been a weather roller coaster. One thing that has carried through, however, is the lack of moisture.

In fact, it is the driest first seven months of a year since 2006 and the 6th driest since 1970. If we look back farther, remembering how dry November and December 2017 were... take a look at the past nine months, from November to July, and compare that same 9 month period to each year since 1969-1970 and our current period is the second driest. Only 1979-1980 was drier with 2005-2006 being pushed to third place. 

July 2018 was the 32nd warmest since 1890, coming in at two-degrees above average. It was also the 26th driest with only 1.65" at the Columbia Regional Airport; a full 2.72" below the 4.37" average. Another fact to consider: at the end of July 2017, COU had received 10" more than 2018 did. 

These dry conditions, combined with intense heat for multiple months, has lead to a serious drought for at least half the state. In June, Governor Parson issued a drought alert for nearly half the counties in Missouri. 

The last major drought

The most recent extreme drought in Missouri was in 2012. Comparing the two years shows only a slight difference in temperature with a much greater difference in rainfall. April 2018 only saw around half an inch of rainfall accumulation whereas April 2012 saw around 8" of rainfall accumulation.

As summer began in 2012, the faucet was shut off, with May through July only seeing around 1.5" each month. In 2018, May through July saw between 1.5" to 3" of rainfall each month.

This year has also seen a larger discrepancy in rainfall throughout the state. Areas mainly along and south of Interstate 70 (and especially I-44) have experienced much more rainfall than areas to the north, hence the difference in the drought conditions. In 2012, the lack of rainfall was more widespread. Therefore, in 2018, the conditions and drought north of I-70 are on par with 2012 and not so for areas to the south (luckily for them).

Looking Ahead

Sadly, August doesn't look like a very wet one. The first half of the month is expected to experience below average precipitation. That, along with expected above average temperatures, will likely increase drought conditions through much of the state. 

Stay with KOMU 8 News, komu.com, and the KOMU WX app for complete forecast updates from the Live Doppler 8 First Alert Weather Team.

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