Wisconsin Public Radio

Severe Drought Hits Southeast Wisconsin

Precipitation as much as 7 inches below normal.

By , Wisconsin Public Radio - Jun 5th, 2021 12:32 pm
Sunshine. CC0 Public Domain

Sunshine. (CC0 Public Domain).

Much of southern Wisconsin continues to be under moderate to severe drought conditions, with near-record hot temperatures expected this weekend.

The U.S. Drought Monitor’s latest map shows moderate drought conditions across all or part of 25 southern Wisconsin counties, representing about 20 percent of the state. All or part of nine counties in southeastern Wisconsin, or about 5 percent of the state, are under severe drought.

Ed Hopkins is assistant state climatologist for Wisconsin. He said much of southern Wisconsin has seen abnormally dry to drought conditions since the start of spring, which is a major change from recent weather patterns.

“This is the first large-scale drought event since well, back in 2015, but really going back to 2013,” Hopkins said. “The last few years have been fairly wet and so this is quite a change from what we’ve been experiencing.”

While many Wisconsinites may be getting to enjoy the outdoors more because of the dry conditions, Hopkins said the weather pattern could start to worry farmers. He said crops typically need an inch of rain per week in the summer.

Jeff Boyne, forecaster for the National Weather Service in La Crosse, said precipitation levels across southern Wisconsin range from 3 to 7 inches below normal. And he said the longer drought conditions last, the more impacts residents will see.

“In the southeast, we’re starting to see lower river levels. As the plants continue to mature and the crops continue to mature, it becomes more of an issue the longer it goes, especially as we start getting more and more heat,” Boyne said. “There’s more demand by the plants for water and if they can’t get the water then they start going under stress.”

Boyne said most of the state will see that heat this weekend thanks to a mass of very warm air that started moving into western Wisconsin on Thursday.

“It’s pretty much going to overspread the state for the weekend, so we’re looking at temperatures primarily in the 90s across the state,” Boyne said.

Boyne said temperatures are expected to come close to record highs. He said residents should take precautions typically recommended in late summer, such as checking on elderly or at-risk individuals and not leaving pets or children in vehicles unattended.

Drought Conditions Worsen In Southern Wisconsin Ahead Of Weekend Heatwave was originally published by Wisconsin Public Radio.

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