So what gives? Well, it has a lot to do with some of the weather patterns that are unique within the Corn Belt. The Midwest has a generalized pattern wherein wet ground conditions drive wetter weather—and the inverse is true for dry conditions. With lots of moisture in the ground and the atmosphere, conditions favor additional rainfall. With less, the sun bakes the soil and generates heat and lower humidity, which makes it more difficult for rain to occur. In the absence of a marked and persistent change in the jetstream, this feedback loop is a pretty reliable predictor of how the conditions may unfold in your area—even beyond the Midwest itself.
Dry West, Wet East, and Some Exceptions
Looking ahead, these patterns are pretty well locked in. That said, there are some notable shifts in the mix. While the drought eased some in the Northern states over the winter, these dry conditions are intensifying a bit and moving farther south. As such, the southern plains are starting this year pretty dry, with a high likelihood that these conditions will persist into the summer. Our simulations overwhelmingly show the same dryness from last year lingering across the western high plains, particularly stretching between the Dakotas through Texas, but also gradually spreading east into southern Minnesota, Iowa, and northwest Missouri.
While farms throughout the West will be wishing for more rain, farms across the East may very well wish for less of it. That’s because the already wet conditions are expected to continue, particularly throughout the Ohio Valley. This is largely due to a concentrated gradient between the dry conditions in the west and the wet conditions in the east. Stretching across much of Missouri and Illinois, this gradient will bring considerable amounts of rain in the southern parts of both states, while the northern areas will remain pretty parched.
Precipitation Outlook: May 2022