Drought hits an extreme

According to the latest assessment from the

U.S. Drought Monitor

, extreme drought conditions now envelop all of Northeast Missouri, Southeast Iowa and West central Illinois.

In addition,

exceptional drought

(the highest reading possible) can now be found over Southeast Missouri and Southern Illinois.

The reason for the rapid worsening of drought conditions can be linked directly to the intense heat since the middle of June and well below normal rainfall since the start of May.

For the 2012 calendar year-to-date, Quincy Regional Airports temperature readings have been the second highest average since record keeping began for Quincy in 1901. The daily average temperature is 57.9, that average temperature is only beat by 1921, when the average temperature was 59.2 degrees. This means that our temperature average in this 2012 calendar year have been higher than the record years of the "Dust Bowl" in the early 1930s.

On the precipitation side of the equation the news is even more grim, with a year-to-date precipitation total of just 9.17" at Quincy Regional Airport. That means that we would need over 12" of rainfall to just catch up with our normal year-to-date average.

So, why do we think this is happening? A large ridge of strong high pressure has literally set up camp over the entire Midwest, this has shifted the normal track of spring and summer storms that normally would travel across the Tri-State area. The real question is when will a strong enough area of low pressure or a tropical system from the Gulf of Mexico come into the upper Midwest to upset this current weather pattern. That answer is not yet clear as most

forecast models

have temperatures continuing to stay above the average of 86 degrees, with little if any chance of rain for the next ten days.