For the first time in nearly a week, the Houston area will receive no rainfall. Harvey, now a Tropical Depression impacting the Mississippi Valley, made landfall last week in southeastern Texas as a category 4 hurricane – the first major hurricane to make landfall in the United States since 2005. For nearly 5 days, Harvey dumped heavy rains on the Houston area. Catastrophic and unprecedented flooding has displaced thousands with countless others still waiting for help. Through August 30th, areas from Houston to Beaumont received in excess of 40” of rain with a wider area seeing 30-40” of rainfall since last Friday. All in all, nearly 19 trillion gallons of water have fallen on the greater Houston area from this storm and Harvey has broken the record for the most rain produced by a tropical system in the continental US. It will likely take weeks for the flood waters to fully recede and much longer for the area to recover.
While Harvey’s greatest impact is no doubt on the residents of Texas, excess water and flooding will impact Texas crops and US exports as well. Fields that were flooded will see nearly a full loss of what remained, and even those crops that had already been harvested are not in the clear from damage. Parts of southeastern Texas still had about 2/3rds of their cotton crop unharvested, and while cotton in the Corpus Christi area was almost fully harvested, flooding in storage areas could leave the crop useless. In addition to crops grown in Texas, many crops from around the country, such as wheat, are shipped to the Texas coast for export through the Gulf. These crops in storage are also at risk for contamination and damage from flood waters.
Up in the heart of the US Corn Belt, the corn crop is just beginning to reach maturity. Most of the “I” states only have a small percentage of the crop that has reached maturity, generally behind the 5-year average. Temperatures this summer have been generally cooler than normal from Iowa to Ohio and cooler than normal temperatures are expected to persist over the next couple weeks. During the next 7 days (through September 6th), temperatures from IL to OH are forecast to be 5-10F colder than normal while Iowa sees generally near normal temperatures and the Western Corn Belt trends warmer than normal. In the 8-14 day period, these trends will only amplify, with the Eastern Corn Belt trending 5-15F colder than normal and the Western Corn Belt trending 5-10F warmer than normal. While temperature trends over the next 14 days may split the Corn Belt in two, precipitation trends are expected to be fairly uniform. While localized areas will no doubt receive some light rains over the next 14 days, much of the Corn Belt is in for a drier than normal beginning to September. The first half of September is forecast to trend the 1st driest in 26+ years for the Corn Belt as a whole while temperatures trend the 2nd coldest in 26+ years. Drought conditions across the central US remain mostly unchanged from last week.
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