The past week saw a significant encircling of drought in Nebraska and growing potential for problems in Iowa.
Nearly all of Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Wyoming are classified as being in near drought or drought, according to the National Drought Mitigation Center.
The greatest regional deterioration during the last week occurred in Kansas and Missouri, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, a weekly map released by the center on Thursdays.
This deterioration creates an environment that strengthens the potential for drought in Nebraska and Iowa. Dry soils to the south of Midlands can sap moisture and energy from the atmosphere, lessening the likelihood of soaking rains reaching this area.
While Kansas saw only a minor increase in total area considered near drought, it did see a significant deterioration in those areas already dry, according to the map. The amount of the state officially in drought jumped to 58 percent, up from 32 percent.
In Missouri, the change in the drought map during the past week was dramatic. About 95 percent of Missouri was classified as in drought or near drought Thursday, up from 55 percent last week.
Northern Missouri and central Illinois have seen only half their normal precipitation over the past 90 days, according to David Miskus, the meteorologist who wrote this week's drought analysis. Miskus specializes in agriculture for the U.S. Climate Prediction Center.
In Iowa, rapid deterioration of crops is likely if substantial rains don't develop, according to the center.
Thursday's map reflects the influence of a dry May on the Sandhills, which now is considered abnormally dry. In the southern part of the state, the center notes, scattered light showers didn't do enough to alleviate problems there. Southeastern Nebraska is one of the areas where drought classifications grew.
And with this new map, the abnormally dry conditions officially have reached the metro area – with the eastern half of Sarpy County covered.
Week to week, the map can change significantly, because of the potential for storms to douse – or miss – an area. However, the region is entering that period of the growing season when crops begin taking up lots of water. That's the reason drought experts are apprehensive about the weeks ahead.
Source: National Drought Mitigation Center; U.S. Climate Prediction Center; Al Dutcher, Nebraska State Climatologist; Harry Hillaker, Iowa State Climatologist.