News release: Drought Resources on the Web

Tim Baker, MU Extension Horticulture Specialist
102 N. Main, Suite 1, Gallatin, MO 64640
660-663-3232, bakert@missouri.edu

Weather and agriculture go hand in hand, and those of us involved in the production of food always keep a close eye on the weather forecast. The drought this year has caught everyone’s attention, even those outside of agriculture.

For this week’s column, I thought I would give some web resources about the drought… both what assistance you might find, and what is actually happening from a weather perspective. If you would like to see my column on-line, go to my web site, http://extension.missouri.edu/nwregion/hort/, and you will be able to click on these links directly from my article.

www.climate.missouri.edu is a good place to start.  This is the home page of the Missouri Climate Center, run by Dr. Pat Guinan, MU Extension Assistant Professor of Climatology and Missouri State Climatologist.  Another good MU source on the drought can be found at http://www.agebb.missouri.edu/drought.

The State of Missouri has useful web pages as well.  The Missouri Department of Agriculture’s page can be found at www.mda.mo.gov/drought. The Missouri Department of Natural Resources has information on drought at www.dnr.mo.gov/droughtasst.htm.

To get a meteorological perspective on the drought, numerous resources are available.  One of the best is the Drought Monitor, a joint effort of the USDA, the National Weather Service, the National Drought Mitigation Center, and others. This site has a map showing various stages of drought around the country.  Drought is measured in stages from D0 (abnormally dry) to D4 (exceptional drought). You can download maps of individual states or regions of the country.  These maps are archived and may be downloaded to view how the drought has progressed in time. Check it out at http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/.

Other Federal and state resources include the U.S. Drought Portal (http://www.drought.gov), the Drought Impact Reporter (http://droughtreporter.unl.edu/), and the Vegetation Drought Response Index (http://vegdri.unl.edu/).

I’ll mention two more sites of interest before I close.  Our local National Weather Service office in Pleasant Hill has two very interesting articles. The first one is a look at the drought and heat from a climatological viewpoint.  Titled, “Extreme Drought Conditions Expand Across Region”, it can be found at http://www.crh.noaa.gov/eax/?n=drought.  There is more than one way to look at weather records when you are trying to determine if heat or drought is worse than another year in history. This page does an admirable job of that, with lots of interesting maps and charts.

The National Weather Service also has an interesting page comparing this year and 1980. Titled, “The Devastating Heat Wave of 1980 Compared to 2012”, it makes a fascinating read for those of you who remember that year. It can be found at http://www.crh.noaa.gov/news/display_cmsstory.php?wfo=eax&storyid=86081&source=0

As you can see from these pages, we are indeed experiencing a drought that will be setting records.  I sure hope we get relief soon.