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Nearly half of Wisconsin experiencing drought

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Nearly half of Wisconsin experiencing drought

Drought has rapidly expanded in Wisconsin in the last two weeks.

June 15, 2023 8:05 AM CDT

By: Jimmie Kaska

LINCOLN, Neb. (Civic Media) – Warm, dry weather conditions in Wisconsin are producing drought across nearly half of the state.

The U.S. Drought Monitor released Thursday showed that 46.16% of the state was in moderate drought, while 90.79% of the state was abnormally dry.

Moderate drought conditions are present in the southern third of Wisconsin below a line from La Crosse to Green Bay, as well as a swath of northwestern Wisconsin from Superior down to Hudson and over to the Chippewa Valley.

Nearly the entire state is experiencing abnormally dry conditions, with pockets of central and northern Wisconsin not listed on the drought monitor.

Drought conditions expanded to nearly half of the state from a quarter of the state a week ago and from only a fraction of a percent two weeks ago, according to the Drought Monitor. In addition, abnormally dry conditions expanded from about two-thirds of the state to over 90% in just two weeks.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said that a storm system last weekend didn’t do much to slow the drought conditions across Wisconsin, with only areas getting two inches or more of rainfall seeing any improvement. Stream flows in the Upper Midwest have fallen to below the 10th percentile historically, as soil moisture evaporation has accelerated due to dry conditions over the past two months. Because of those conditions, the Drought Monitor greatly expanded drought and dry conditions to its report this week. Most of the Midwest is experiencing the same issue during a crucial part of the crop-growing season.

Short-term impacts to agriculture and grasslands are expected for the entire state. These impacts typically last fewer than six months, according to the USDA. In its summary, the drought monitor noted that in the driest areas, crop producers are already using supplemental feeding for livestock and that the loss of crop yield is becoming a concern.

The USDA said that historically, abnormally dry conditions lead to lower water levels, burn bans, yellow or brown lawns, an increase in irrigation, outdoor water bans in some municipalities, and crops that are stressed, especially during growing season. Moderate drought impacts typically include higher hay prices and increased sales of livestock.

The National Weather Service shows above-average temperatures and below-normal precipitation is expected for Wisconsin over the next six to 10 days. The Climate Prediction Center at the NWS shows soil moisture below normal in nearly all of Wisconsin, with seasonal levels far below normal in the southern two-thirds of the state.

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