Fall precipitation in the Midwest: from shortage in the west to
surplus in the east
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[December 03, 2011]
-- In the Midwest during the fall of 2011, precipitation was
plentiful in the eastern Midwest but scarce in western parts of the
region, according to the Midwestern Regional Climate Center at the
Illinois State Water Survey. Meteorological fall is September
Fall precipitation in portions of Minnesota and western Iowa was 4
to 6 inches below normal (Figure 1). September through November
precipitation totals from around Minnesota were 1.15 inches in
Redwood Falls, 1.36 inches in Minneapolis-Saint Paul, 2.39 inches in
Saint Cloud and 3.21 inches in Duluth. In Iowa, Sioux City recorded
just 0.59 inches and Sioux Rapids recorded 1.37 inches.
Minneapolis-Saint Paul, the fall precipitation of 1.36 inches was a
negative departure of 5.92 inches from the 1981-2010 normal. The
autumn of 2011 in the Twin Cities was the driest in the 141-year
record, according to the Minnesota Climatology Working Group.
In Minnesota and northwest Iowa, the minimal fall precipitation
intensified the existing abnormally dry conditions. As a result,
this region saw the development of moderate to severe agricultural
drought conditions on the U.S. Drought Monitor over the past three
The dry conditions have created some negative impacts in
Minnesota and northwest Iowa. Negative impacts include reduced crop
yields, smaller soybeans, difficult tillage operations and damage to
Fortunately, not all drought impacts in this region have been
negative. A dry fall produced an ideal harvest for farmers, assisted
in the drying of corn without using grain dryers, and extended the
outdoor construction and maintenance work seasons. In addition, the
dry conditions this fall will reduce the probability for flooding
next spring, which river communities are thankful for after three
consecutive years of spring flooding.
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In contrast, the eastern Midwest received ample precipitation
this fall. Kentucky and parts of Ohio, Indiana, southern Illinois
and southeast Missouri received 15 to 20 inches of precipitation
(Figure 2), which is 6 to 10 inches above normal fall precipitation.
This abundant rainfall helped eliminate abnormally dry and drought
conditions on the U.S. Drought Monitor altogether across this
However, the unseasonably high precipitation in the eastern
Midwest did not come without some negative consequences. Flooding
was an issue on a few occasions in Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana.
[Text from file received from
State Water Survey]
The Minnesota Climatology Working
Group contributed to this article, and the Drought Impact Reporter
website provided some drought impacts.
The Midwestern Regional Climate
Center is a cooperative program of the Illinois State Water Survey
and the National Climatic Data Center of the National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce.