Thursday, July 26, 2012

Hoping for rain to ease the drought? Sorry Charlie!

Let's all say a prayer that this system brings meaningful rain!
Increasing numbers of residents (and not just farmers) across the Midwest are looking upwards to the skies these days. Along with the thoughtful gazes are going increasing numbers of prayers as the mid section of the nation is now entering into an increasingly severe drought!

On 18 July, nearly 1,300 counties across 29 states were declared “natural disaster areas” by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) as a result of crop damage and loss caused by the drought and heat. Even this current frontal system (see graphic) looks somewhat paltry and ineffectual. What is really needed is a dramatic change in the jet stream to a more southerly position; something that is not very likely to happen between now and September.

So, the bottom line for the time being is to ‘just get used to it’! (BTW rainfall month to date, for the area around Forsyth Missouri, has been only 1.34 inches versus and average figure of 3.15 inches)! But Wait!..............

 "And in the afternoon, God saw how parched the landscape was and He opened the heavens and brought forth blessed rain!"

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Day after hot and miserable day!

Hot and miserable and DRY could easily be used to describe the summer of 2012 for much of the Midwest! Lost crops, dropping water tables and ruined gardens are just a few of the effects that the weather has wrought this year. And, the trouble is, there is no end in sight! While the summer of 2011 was one that broke many records for heat, this summer has already smashed those to pieces! With more than 155 all-time high temperatures recorded in just the first 15 days of July, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) calls it the warmest summer since record-keeping began in 1880. Blame it on a series of stubborn and persistent areas of high pressure smack dab over the Central (US. Normally, the jet stream helps to move these areas of high pressure along post haste bring cooling winds and rain with them. However, this year the stream has be way too far to the north to be effective). Now, climatologists and weather watchers are waiting to see when and if the jet stream begins to follow a more southerly track. When it finally does, look for immediate relief. Otherwise, just hope your AV unit keeps on chugging!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Heat Wave #2 continues!

I sure hope everybody got a few sprinkles of rain yesterday as that will be it for the foreseeable future. That old pesky ridge of high pressure is once more situated right over the Midwest and you can expect some sizzling temperatures as a result. The only ‘good’ aspect will be the fact that the humidity should be pretty low which will help the nighttime temperatures to drop into the sixties. That said, you can also start figuring on record crop losses due to the drought. Some experts are now predicting food cost increases of anywhere from 5 to 10% across the board by early next year.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Is another heat wave in the offing for the Midwest?

With close to a third of the country’s crops at imminent risk, yet another heat wave may be on the way! The National Weather Service stresses, however, that this one may not be as prolonged as a ‘backdoor cold front’ may make its way into the are by late in the week (perhaps July 21 or 22). They admonish that even should the front arrive, it may not make much of a difference as temperatures are expected to soar well above the century mark as early as Wednesday, July the 18th. In addition, they are warning that the overall National drought is worsening!

At this time, rainfall has been sporadic at best and farmers are praying for a change in the current regime. Hardest hit are corn, soybean and cereal crops. "To see something on this continental scale, where we're seeing such a large portion of the country in drought, you have to go back to 1988," said Brad Rippey, a USDA agricultural meteorologist. A fact that will surely not bode well for wholesale prices later in the season.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Someone wake me! We got rain in Forsyth!

Mid July and most of the media out there is lamenting over the worsening drought picture for the Central US. To hear them talk, we’d be luck to see ANY rainfall before Christmas (OK, maybe I am exaggerating a bit).

Not true, at least for my little spot on planet earth near Forsyth Missouri! We had a nice steady rain this morning (July 14) that measured .44 inches. The combined with the previous rainfall comes to 1.28 inches or about half of the normal 3.15 inches that falls during a ‘normal’ July.  Now, while this will by no means break the drought, it’s still better than nothing. Only downside in my mind will be the need now to cut the grass. Something I haven’t had to do since late June!

Monday, July 9, 2012

July 2012: the first week!

After literally baking in 100 plus heat for all of the first week of July, we got some rain on the eight. Now, the new regime appears it could be both high heat coupled with high humidity! Sometimes it seems you just can’t win.

Currently, the total rainfall stands at .84 of an inch (the average is 3.15 for the month) with only a hope of more to come in the form of popup showers. Other than a very weak frontal boundary that barely moves, there has been nothing in the way of an organized front to get the atmosphere percolating once again. 

Thankfully, the water that did deign to fall (.04 on Saturday the 7th and .80 on the 8th), has done a lot to perk up both the lawns and the trees in my area. While it may be hard to see so early on, these three pictures show a marked improvement in the color of the grass which had been almost all brown.

One thing that appears to be for sure; the temperatures are trending upwards possibly in response to climate change. A change that may be accelerating. Each day of the first week averaged out to 104F. Even more disturbing was how warm the overnight periods were averaging at just under the 70 degree mark. The normal average has been 65 over the past thirty years! This trend, should it stick, will bode poorly.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

July 8th – It was a popup shower kind of day!

A great sight to see after weeks with no rain!

Every so often all four ‘atmospheric players’ show up on the field to play their stormy games. Let me introduce each one to you:

Da Sun, da Sun! – A good storm needs lots of heat and that’s just what Old Sol provides in July. Today it was no problem to see it heat up to 100 in short order.

High Relative Humidity – This measure of the amount of moisture in the air really begins to count for something when it hits the 70 percentile range. That’s just what we had in store today as winds aloft brought in a good dose of moisture from the Gulf.

A weakening upper ridge – A strong ridge of high pressure overhead pretty much squashes any chance for a storm to develop. However, when it weakens, hot air can really rise up and bust through this invisible cap. When that happens, you’ll often see the rapid formation of cumulus nimbus clouds that can quickly punch up through the 30,000 foot mark. This action can start a tremendously powerful updraft that can suck an awesome amount of heated moisture high into the atmosphere where temperatures are far below zero. The end result – a snowstorm way up overhead. Eventually, all this refreshing coldness in the form of chilled water then descends onto the ground below. Blessed relief for all.

An approaching cool front – All frontal systems have one prominent feature, they like to stir up the atmosphere. And, when you do that, things can start happening in a much more organized way as the cool air slides underneath and then, in effect, pushes up the hot air from below. The end result, even more convection!

So, that is pretty much the setup for this date. This day (a Sunday), started out in the low seventies under clear blue skies. However, if you were to look out over a valley, you’d see a lot of haze – (that’d be all that moisture I was talking about). And, those clear skies were not to last very long, as moist and heated air packets began to rise ever higher into the atmosphere. Once they got up to about a mile high, the colder air at that level began to condense them into cumulus and other cloud formations. Things were becoming more and more unstable!

By 3:30 PM, the heat outside had built up to the 100 degree mark (this is becoming normal) and there were cumulus nimbus clouds all around Forsyth Missouri. Unfortunately, not a single rain producer was overhead. In the distance, I could occasionally hear thunder. Outside, the street by my house was becoming increasingly littered with dead leaves as water stressed trees shed their leaves. A kind of early fall was going on.

When the showers finally came at 6:30 PM it was the perfect deal. A long three hour fall that dropped .80 inches onto a parched and burned earth. And, while this day did not break the drought, at least it signaled a change. Now, let's see what tomorrow brings...

Got Drought?

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Rains finally come back to Forsyth Mo. on July the 7th!

It was really nice to hear thunder again and those rain drops were heaven sent, I think. This change in the guard occurred on the afternoon of July the 7th when I spied rain falling, abet sporadically, outside my window at about 1:30 in the afternoon. The cells were coming in from the northeast and while no one shower offered up that much, it was still nice to see. It’s been quite some time (back in mid June) since we’ve had any measurable water falling from the sky. And, while I don’t expect this day to put any sort of dent into what’s become a worsening drought, it was better than a sharp stick in the eye!

The question now is what will happen next. Are we going to see a return to a ‘normal’ July or will this pattern of heat with little to no rain persist?

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Early July 2012 heat wave!

Another few days of one hundred degree plus days to go, That’s according to the National Weather Service that is calling for a cool front to invade the mid west sometime during the weekend of July the 7th.  This chart shows the trend over the past week or so:

 Outside, just about every living plant or tree is now showing signs if both heat stress combined with a lack of adequate moisture. Rainfall, across this region has been all but non existent. Lawns everywhere have gone dormant and even local gardens that are being watered on a regular basis are looking sickly. Currently to only survivors in my raised beds have been a few tomatoes and peppers. Everything else is pretty much gone!

Monday, July 2, 2012

June 2012 versus 2000

In looking way back to June at the turn of the millennium, it’s instructive to note the differences in temperature. Here is a copy of the original temperatures I recorded for June 2000.

Note that the average for the month was about 71F. Next, take a look at June 2012. Wow, a full seven degrees warmer, on average.