Recent Columbia rainfall not enough to quench drought

Monday, September 9, 2013 | 5:39 p.m. CDT; updated 7:15 p.m. CDT, Monday, September 9, 2013

COLUMBIA — The Sunday morning rain shower might have been a nice change of pace, but it sure wasn’t a "drought buster."

Sunday morning’s shower brought about a half-inch of rain to Columbia’s thirsty ground. The rain was beneficial, but it wasn’t enough to bring Boone County out of drought conditions, said Mark Fuchs, service hydrologist for the National Weather Service.

The northern half of Boone County has been in a moderate drought since the end of August, and the entire county has experienced abnormally dry conditions since the end of July. Sunday’s brief shower was the first rain this month, and rainfall since June 1 is nearly 7 inches short of average, according to data from the National Weather Service.

There is no magic number for how much rain the area needs to escape drought conditions, state climatologist Pat Guinan said. But the near-term forecast does not look particularly good. There is a chance of rain Wednesday, but the likelihood of significant rain in the next week is slim, he said.

This forecast isn’t good news for area farms. MU agronomy professor Bill Wiebold said, "the damage has probably been done" to area corn crops, but soybeans are still being hurt by the dry conditions and could use some rain.

"The soybean crop looks terrible. It’s really dry," Wiebold said. "It has to rain pretty soon. The next couple of days of 95-degree weather are probably going to kill some of the plants. There is just not enough water."

Although there might not be a magic number, Fuchs said a big rainfall of three to five inches could take the county out of drought. Scattered showers like Sunday's, however, are more probable.

"More likely would be several sustained rainfall events in a row, like yesterday,” Fuchs said. “If we kept getting that every week or twice a week, that would do the trick over several weeks time."

Supervising editor is Zachary Matson.

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