Iowa Public Television


Weather Continues To Pound Grain Belt

posted on May 31, 2013

President Obama: “Let me begin by just saying than whenever I come to an area that has been devastated by some natural disaster like this I want to make sure that everyone understands that I am speaking on behalf of the entire country.  Everywhere, fellow Americans are praying with you.  They are thinking about you and they want to help.”

Even as the President surveyed the wreckage from last week’s devastating tornado in Moore, Oklahoma, the bell had already rung for the next round of severe weather.`

Tornadoes hit the southern plains for the second time in as many weeks. At least three twisters touched down in Oklahoma Thursday and two more struck Arkansas. No one was killed but nine people were injured as the powerful storm system moved through the area.

North central Kansas was hit by 150 to 175 mile per hour winds at the beginning of the week, kicking up another twister, which registered between an EF 3 and EF 4.

Heavy rains over the Memorial Day weekend blanketed areas of the Midwest and Southern Plains, triggering flash floods. 

In south central Texas near San Antonio, thunderstorms produced enough rain to fill dry river beds that went well beyond their banks. Throughout the week, flash flood watches were the order of the day as water levels rose throughout the Midwest and South.

Heavy rainfall in parts of Illinois, Missouri, Minnesota and Wisconsin have ranged from 6 to 12 inches over the past 30 days.  In Iowa, the State Climatologist called the spring of 2013 the ‘wettest on record’ for the Hawkeye State.  With an average of 16.4 inches of rainfall this is the most combined precipitation for March, April and May since records were first kept in 1892.

Excessive rain postponed planting in several states this spring. The weekly USDA crop report revealed 86 percent of America’s corn has been planted but soggy conditions will delay farmers from sowing the remaining 14 percent. At this time last year, 99 percent of the corn had been planted.  Only 44 percent of the soybean crop is in the ground – more than 65 percent below this time a year ago. 

With so much damage and uncertainty due to inclement weather, the Agriculture Department is shifting efforts from drought relief to flood relief.

Juan Garcia, USDA: “We have had at least one county in Missouri that has requested authorization for the Emergency Conservation Program, which is a program in which we offer cost-sharing assistance to assist farmers to remove debris from their farmlands, or repair fences.  Also, to repair conservation structures in the areas. One of our main missions is to provide a safety net for these producers.  You never know what Mother Nature’s going to do.  If you take last year, we had a tremendous drought in that area.  A big difference from last year as to this year, where we’ve had significant rainfall that has caused flooding.”

Weekend forecast include falling temperatures as a cold front moves across the region.  While warmer temperatures are expected at the beginning of next week, much of the Grain Belt is likely to see more rain in the week ahead.

Tags: corn Emergency Conservation Program Iowa Kansas news Oklahoma rain soybeans tornadoes USDA weather wettest spring on record