News release: Drought Deficits

Tim Baker, MU Extension Horticulture Specialist
102 N. Main, Suite 1, Gallatin, MO 64640

Release Date: October 4, 2012

Title: Drought Deficits

The last time I wrote a column on the drought, I mentioned that the remnants of Hurricane Isaac had helped most of Missouri.  My rain gauge measurements in Gallatin for September totaled 2.41 inches.  Isaac contributed 1.76 inches of that total.  Without Isaac, we would have seen only 0.65 inches for the entire month of September. But even those 2.41 inches fell short of the normal 5.21 inches seen in Gallatin for September.

I had also mentioned in that column that the drought wasn’t over.  Currently, all of Missouri is still in some stage of drought, ranging from D1 to D3.

While Isaac helped the precipitation deficit in Daviess County, our drought stage has not changed.  Before Isaac, we were rated at D3, Extreme Drought.  After Isaac, we have remained at the D3 stage, throughout the entire month of September.

Most of the rest of Missouri has improved dramatically.  Many parts of the state are receiving at least some rain.  The latest Drought Monitor shows expanding areas of D1 stage (reduced from D2), and all D4 areas are gone. There are lesser amounts of the state under D2 and D3 drought conditions, compared to the previous Drought Monitor.  That’s good news… but we’re still under drought.

I had also mentioned drought deficits in my column on Isaac. Just how many inches below normal are we right now? There are a couple of ways to look at it.

The most obvious is just how short are we for the year?  My January through September precipitation measurements total 21.73 inches.  The climate normals for Gallatin (1971 to 2000) indicate that we should have received 30.01 inches, which puts our deficit at 8.28 inches below normal.

The other way to look at deficits is the precipitation shortfalls during the growing season, April through September.  Gallatin should have seen 25.45 inches during that time period, while I only measured 14.21 inches.  That puts us behind 11.24 inches for the growing season.

We can compare this to other locations around our region as well.  The National Weather Service (NWS) reports precipitation shortfalls for the period of January 1 through September 27 as follows: KCI - 13.06”, St. Joseph – 10.59”, Lee’s Summit – 10.6”, Kirksville – 10.46”, and Chillicothe – 5.14”.

If you look at growing season deficits, the NWS reports precipitation shortfalls for the period of April 1 through September 27 as follows: KCI - 15.91”, St. Joseph – 13.64”, Lee’s Summit – 11.69”, Kirksville – 11.31”, and Chillicothe – 8.25”.

Other interesting NWS statistics show this year as the warmest January through September on record. This year also shows the lowest precipitation recorded for the April through September time period at the Kansas City International Airport. 

In a future article, I plan to do some comparisons with this year to those historic droughts of the 1930’s and 1950’s. My next column will tell you about a series of meetings that MU Extension will be holding on the drought. These will be held in several locations around our Northwest Region in early November.