Why the drought across the Stateline has gotten so extreme

Why the drought across the Stateline has gotten so extreme
Why the drought across the Stateline has gotten so extreme(DJ Baker)
Published: Sep. 13, 2023 at 3:40 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

STATELINE (WIFR) - It’s no secret that our drought is worse today than three months ago. But what you may not know is the reason why.

Globally, the jet stream, which transports air and moisture, is affected by El Niño. It forces the jet stream’s flow into a more flat, west to east pattern. Moisture is usually transported to our area from the Gulf of Mexico on a south to north jet-stream pattern. That is what is happening now, so we see warmer, drier conditions.

But, that’s not the only reason.

Those warmer temperatures mean any moisture in our ground or from our lakes, rivers and plants will evaporate faster and go into our atmosphere. Usually, that moisture would bring rain, but you also need instability for showers to fall. And we don’t have that either.

Our water cycle includes evaporation and precipitation. If you remove water from one portion of the cycle, you lose it from the other.

In July, an average amount of rain fell - so no change to the deficit. However, the rain we did get came down too fast for the ground to absorb. That excess water runs off into our ditches, rivers and storm sewers then flies out of our environment. That’s why our ground remained dry heading into August. We needed consistent rainfall throughout the month to replenish the missing moisture, but we didn’t see that. Instead, we were nearly 3 inches below our normal rainfall for the month, so our dry ground got even drier.

That puts us into September, where the ground is dry and our forecast predicts very little precipitation. The El Niño will continue for another year or two, so sadly, our dry conditions will likely continue and possibly get worse.