Moderate drought conditions officially grip Missouri, Columbia

Thursday, June 21, 2012 | 8:25 p.m. CDT; updated 11:19 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 17, 2012

COLUMBIA — The U.S. Drought Monitor officially declared a moderate drought in Columbia and much of Missouri on its website Thursday.

Moderate drought conditions in the Midwest are defined as “some damage to crops, pastures; fire risk high; streams, reservoirs, or wells low, some water shortages developing or imminent, voluntary water use restrictions requested,” according to the National Weather Service.

Through Monday, Columbia experienced the warmest beginning to a calendar year on record with an average temperature of 55.1 degrees. The second warmest was in 1921 with an average of 52.9 degrees.

The National Weather Service's Keetch-Byram Drought Index is related specifically to fire potential. The current index for the Eastern Missouri and Southern Illinois regions is moderate to high partly because of lack of rainfall and high temperatures.

May was the third driest in Columbia history with 1.31 inches of rain. Through Wednesday, it has rained 1.64 inches in June, only 0.33 inch more than that of May.

According to the National Weather Service, mid-Missouri has a 50 to 60 percent chance of having below-normal precipitation measurements through June 30.

Bill Wiebold, MU Extension specialist in plant sciences, said when there are 20 mph winds and heat ranging from 90 to 95 degrees, plants and soil lose up to 0.2 inch of water each day in evaporation. 

"We need this weather to turn around if we're going to protect our yield," Wiebold said.

Columbia received trace amounts of rain Wednesday night, but Wiebold said crops would need an inch per week to maintain an average yield.

Calder Cleavelin contributed to this article. Supervising editor is John Schneller.

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