Isaac’s heavy rains on way to parched Midwest

Source: Paul Quinlan, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, August 31, 2012

Tropical Storm Isaac may bring the U.S. midsection the rain it desperately needs.

Forecasters this morning predicted Isaac will plow north through parched Arkansas, Missouri and Illinois this weekend, providing relief from what many are calling the worst U.S. drought since 1988. Moderate to extreme drought conditions afflict 53 percent of the country

In fact, the slow-moving storm could go so far as to bring flooding to areas that have been parched for months, according to Brian Fuchs, climatologist at the National Drought Mitigation Center and author of the latest U.S. Drought Monitor released this morning.

“The opportunity will be there not only for drought-busting rains, but for a transition into flooding,” Fuchs said. “If the forecasted storm track of anywhere from 4 to 7 inches of rain materializes, that could change the landscape of drought in a hurry.”

This week’s Drought Monitor, based on data from the seven-day period ending Tuesday, brought good news, Fuchs noted.

Dry conditions eased over Kansas, Oklahoma, Iowa, southeast Nebraska and Illinois, where extreme and exceptional drought conditions eased slightly.

Extreme drought ebbed in southern Arizona but grew in western Nevada, in southern and eastern Wyoming and in South Dakota. A small patch of exceptional drought appeared in far south Texas. Exceptional drought conditions stretched from Nebraska into the southeast corner of Colorado.