Heat Continues to Fry Midwest

July 25, 2012

We’ve gotten a little rain here in mid-Michigan, and this morning it’s cool and comfortable, more like normal. That is not the case for the more central areas of the midwest bread basket.


While much of the country has had a brief respite from the extreme heat and humidity that has marked the summer of 2012, in the nation’s heartland — including key agricultural areas from Nebraska to Illinois — the heat has proven relentless. When the temperature soared to 105°F at 3:00 pm central time, St. Louis tied its all-time record for the most days in a single year with high temperatures of 105°F or greater. The existing record of 10 such days was set in 1934.

Through July 21, St. Louis and Columbia, Mo., had each set a record for the warmest year-to-date, beating a record established in 1921. The National Weather Service said that by October, the records for the maximum number of days with a high temperature of 90°F or greater, and 95°F or greater, “will also likely be threatened at all three of our official climate locations.”

Further west, it is possible that North Platte, Neb., will wind up with its second-longest streak of consecutive 100°F days, with nine such days if temperatures reach the century mark through Wednesday.

North Platte, which sits along I-80 in the western part of the state, had already seen 16 days this year with temperatures of 100°F or higher as of July 23, including 12 100-degree days in July alone. The all-time record is 29 such days, set during the Dust Bowl year of 1936. Omaha has had its fourth-longest streak of consecutive days with high temperatures of 95°F or greater, and has hit 100°F or higher five times this month. The high temperature on both July 22 and 23 was 105°F, which were record daily highs. Omaha normally averages just two 100-degree days during July.

The heat in the Central states is compounding drought concerns, as one of the worst droughts in U.S. history has intensified during recent weeks due to the combination of record warmth and well below-average rainfall.

Further north, though, some beneficial rain is falling in a zone from Minnesota through northern Illinois, Michigan and Ohio. A frontal boundary marking the dividing line between cooler and less humid air to the north, and the extreme heat to the south, has already sparked one round of severe thunderstorms on Tuesday. A long-lasting, fast-moving complex of thunderstorms producing widespread damaging winds (similar to but not quite meeting the official criteria of a “derecho“) — tore through the Chicago area, knocking out power to as many as 175,000 people.

More severe weather is expected during the week, but most of the rain from these thunderstorms is likely to fall to the north of the areas most heavily affected by the drought.


4 Responses to “Heat Continues to Fry Midwest”

  1. daryan12 Says:


    I’m just waiting for a climate denier to show up and deny that there is a drought, or that its caused by swamp gas or sunpots or something.

    …Back in the real world….I saw a talk many moons ago (literally back in the early 90’s or something) by a scientists who introduced the topic of climate change. He predicted that much of the Mid-West of America drying out and becoming a dust bowl over the next half century….and he also suggested therer would be more intensive rainfall and flooding in the UK (which we’ve just seen, and not for the first time I might add)….and lets not talk about the ice caps and his predictions there!

  2. The blaze in South Dakota—the Longhorn Complex fire—began on July 19 and had burned through nearly 30 square miles (78 square kilometers) by the afternoon of July 23. The fire in Nebraska—the Fairfield Creek Fire—was reported on July 20 and had burned over 150 square miles (388 square kilometers). Both fires were fueled in part by the broad drought that has affected the central United States in recent months. -NASA (Photo from Earth Observatory)


  3. rayduray Says:

    The Drought Monitor 6 Week Animation:

    There has been substantial intensification of the Midwest/Plains drought this past week. However, the percentage of the affected area in Exceptional Drought (D-4) is an order of magnitude less widespread than the 2011 Texas drought. That’s the good news.

    Other good news is that the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers apparently learned some lessons from the 1988 drought which severely curtailed barge traffic on the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers. Dredging and diking seem to be keeping the river open to commercial barge traffic, albeit with much lightened loads on the barges.

  4. rayduray Says:

    The Guardian UK features this “Comment Is Free” op/ed piece by Raj Patel on the current drought in the Corn Belt:


    Patel is the author of several books, including “Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System” http://tinyurl.com/bo8d53h

    In a C-SPAN presentation http://tinyurl.com/bo2hsxv in which Patel participated, he had an interesting observation about the British occupation of India. He asserted, and I have not found contradicting information, that over the couple of millenia that we have records of the history of the Indian sub-continent that there have been failures of the monsoon leading to devastating famines about once every 150 years. Yet when the British East India Trading Company took over the governance of India that there were regional famines on average every four years.

    I’m not sure what we can expect from the coming climate chaos ahead. But one thing I can warn against is the “free market” types who only see things like the Midwest drought as opportunities for fantastic profits.

    I’d prefer to think that we might bring back the guillotine and make this breed of miscreants a bit more circumspect about their wild casino instincts.

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