Months of significant drought could have lasting impacts through winter

“We always expect a drought about every 10 years. Strangely, 2012 was our last severe drought and here we are 10 years later.”

Andy Clay’s family has been growing corn, soybeans and cattle on the bottom of the Missouri River in Moniteau County for more than 200 years and has had its fair share of unrelenting drought and flooding. A wet and cold spring forced a late planting, but in July Clay said they started feeding cattle hay almost 4 months earlier than normal.

The lack of rain has been an issue across much of the country, with drought conditions currently affecting about 60% of the continental US.

“It’s really concerning,” Clay said. “Really, shipping is our biggest concern, from our input costs of sourcing fertilizer this time of year at harvest to trying to ship our grain. If we don’t start either draining water or getting rain where we can get the product moving, it becomes a big problem.

River levels in the Midwest this fall were at their lowest in years, and Missouri has experienced unusual dryness or drought since mid-June.

“Between Jefferson City and St. Charles we are looking at currents in the upper 30s to low 40s in cubic feet per second, which is in the lowest 20th percentile of currents we see on the Missouri at this time of year. said St. Louis National Weather Service hydrologist Mark Fuchs.

When last checked, water levels on the Mississippi and Missouri rivers were near low marks, below 6 feet in some areas.

“Typically, the lowest rivers on the Mississippi River in St. Louis are reached between December and February, and we see a lot of them around the first of the year or early January, so we’ll be keeping an eye on something that affects shipping traffic in particular.” But also other companies like utilities, power plants that are pulling out of both Missouri and Mississippi in the coming months,” Fuchs said.

Climate Central reports that Missouri has a moderate drought vulnerability, weighing how vulnerable the state is to drought and whether it is prepared for impacts.

When asked about the role of changing climate in dry or wet years, Fuchs said we’ve seen severe droughts over the past 20 years, but the duration is shorter. On the other hand, more significant local flash flood events occurred in this part of the country during the same period.

Projects like the forthcoming Roy Blunt Reservoir in Sullivan County, Missouri, could help provide water during unusually dry years.

“This is certainly one of those areas of the state where, whether you look at 2012 or 2018, we’ve really seen the effects of the drought. When you get north of the Missouri River, we really rely on surface water reservoirs for that water supply,” said Missouri Department of Natural Resources Director Dru Buntin.

The Climate Prediction Center is tracking the ongoing drought with some improvement in our area through the end of January, but much of the country will only be drier this winter.

Watch Tuesday’s Stormtack Winter Weather Special at 6:30 p.m. on KMIZ and 9:30 p.m. on KQFX.

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