Great Plains Soil Moisture is Trending Much Drier

Global Soil Moisture Anomaly Analysis for May 2020
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Central U.S. seasonal soil moisture trend is notably drier. Occasional hot and dry weather events will accelerate the dryness. A period of hot weather is ahead late weekend and next week for the central and southern Great Plains further aggravating the drier soil trend for much of that region.

Hot and dry scare for Great Plains? Model forecasts this week have certainly been in favor of a developing dry and hot period for the Great Plains possibly extending into the East U.S. for the 10-day period beginning over-the-weekend. But! The GFS is backing off the intensity of this potential event last night while the ECM is on its own with the 10-day dry/hot forecast. The ECM 10-day percent of normal rainfall forecast indicates arid conditions for the central and southern Great Plains, Texas, the Mid-South and Northeast U.S. (Fig. 1). The GFS is not as dry. In the 11-15 day period a wetter regime is agreed to by all models lead by GFS ENS (Fig. 2). So…is there a dry and hot scare for the Great Plains ahead? Yes, but the trend is starting look less intense and of shorter duration.

Fig. 1-2: ECM 10-day percent of normal rainfall forecast is dry followed by a wetter change days 11-15 indicated by GFS ENS.

The upcoming hot risk is very focused on Kansas and Oklahoma with increasing >100F risk for the central and western portion of each state peaking early in the 6-10 day period (Fig. 3-4). Of interest…the drier soils in the southwest Great Plains and the drier seasonal soil moisture change across most of the Great Plains into the Ohio Valley (Fig. 5-6).

Fig. 3-4: The GFS ENS risk of >95F in the 1-5 and 6-10 day period. >100F risk is annotated for the Great Plains.


Fig. 5-6: Current U.S. soil moisture anomalies and the seasonal soil moisture trend.