Latest drought monitor over the midwest


Monthly drought outlook


One Week US Drought Monitor Class Change


Amount of precipitation needed to end drought


Drought severity index by division


4 month precipitation departures


Vegetation Drought Response Index (VegDRI), complete, Iowa


Standard precipitation index


USDA Topsoil Moisture by Short-VeryShort


Week Date None Abnormally Dry Moderate Severe Extreme Exceptional DSCI
Current 2021-09-21 25.42 74.58 48.13 9.60 0.00 0.00 132
Last Week 2021-09-14 22.58 77.42 41.80 9.34 0.00 0.00 129
Three Months Ago 2021-06-22 7.54 92.46 76.16 43.88 0.00 0.00 213
Start of Calendar Year 2020-12-29 37.84 62.16 36.35 17.59 4.03 0.00 120
Start of Water Year 2020-09-29 30.56 69.44 46.89 22.57 0.00 0.00 139
One Year Ago 2020-09-15 21.75 78.25 47.15 22.99 0.00 0.00 148


For much of the drought-monitoring period, the remnants of Hurricane Nicholas continued to produce heavy showers across the South. Toward the end of the period, residual tropical moisture was drawn northward in advance of a strong cold front, further enhancing rainfall in several areas. At the Tuesday morning (September 21) cutoff, rain was falling in several areas—including parts of the Midwest—that have been experiencing dryness or drought. Meanwhile, the Northwest also received some precipitation, including high-elevation snow, providing limited drought relief. In many sections of the country, however, dry weather favored summer crop maturation and harvesting, but reduced topsoil moisture for newly planted winter grains. Some of the most significant short-term dryness, aggravated by late-season heat, existed across the southern Plains. Mostly dry weather also prevailed across the nation’s southwestern quadrant, including central and southern California. Near- or above-normal temperatures covered much of the country, except briefly in the wake of the previously mentioned cold front.


On September 22, a slow-moving cold front will press toward the Atlantic Seaboard, delivering some additional heavy rain. Rain will also linger through Thursday in the lower Great Lakes region. Although cool, dry air will overspread much of the East by Friday, rain will continue into the weekend across New England and southern Florida. However, most of the remainder of the country will experience dry weather during the next 5 days. In fact, any precipitation west of the Mississippi Valley should be limited to showers in the Desert Southwest and Pacific Northwest. From the Pacific Coast to the Plains, summer-like warmth will accompany the mostly dry conditions. The NWS 6- to 10-day outlook for September 28 – October 2 calls for the likelihood of near- or above-normal temperatures nationwide, except for cooler-than-normal conditions in the Pacific Coast States and the western Great Basin. Meanwhile, below-normal rainfall in most areas from the Mississippi Valley to the East Coast should contrast with wetter-than-normal weather in other areas, including northern California, the Northwest, the Intermountain West, and the central and southern High Plains.


Hefty rains fell across some of the region’s hardest-hit drought areas in Minnesota and environs, resulting in improvements of up to one category in the drought depiction. For example, northern Minnesota’s area of exceptional drought (D4) was eliminated by well-placed rainfall. On September 20, International Falls, Minnesota, received more than 2 inches of rain in a calendar day for the first time since July 17, 2019. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Minnesota’s topsoil moisture rated very short to short has dramatically improved in recent weeks, from 84 to 35% between August 15 and September 19. Upper Midwestern rain arrived too late to benefit drought-affected summer crops; on September 19, roughly one-quarter of Minnesota’s primary row crops—26% of the corn and 25% of the soybeans—were rated in very poor to poor condition, with harvest underway. Farther south, however, not all areas received rain through the end of the drought-monitoring period. As a result, dryness and drought intensified in some locations, including parts of Missouri, northern Illinois, southern Wisconsin, and the lower Great Lakes region. On September 19, USDA noted that topsoil moisture was at least one-half very short to short in Indiana and Ohio.