Rains arrive in the Corn Belt while wildfires sweep the West

Jul 16, 2021  | 3 min  | Ep4648

Another week of extremes as flood warnings blanket southern Missouri and northern Ohio. Red Flag warnings in place for parts of Montana, Wyoming and Idaho.

As of Friday, 59 large fires in a dozen U.S. states are uncontained as another blast of hot air is forecast for the weekend.

John Torpy has our report.


Record setting high temperatures are making matters worse for the drought stricken Pacific Northwest while sporadic rain showers in the Midwest and High Plains brought minimal relief this week.

The expanding drought in the western U.S. continues to dominate the nation’s weather story with above normal temperatures expanding drought conditions in California, Oregon and Washington. Jay Inslee, governor of the Evergreen State, declared a drought emergency on Wednesday.

Gov. Jay Inslee, D – Washington: “We have to recognize this is in some sense this is the summer of climate change. /Our spring and summer were historically dry before this record heat wave passed through. Unfortunately, the forecast through September indicates higher temperatures and below-normal precipitation."

The declaration follows a state of emergency announcement Governor Inslee issued last week due to severe wildfire risk. Both orders are scheduled to stay in place through the end of September.

Yesterday, California Governor Gavin Newsom deployed additional fire fighters and equipment to Oregon to help combat the Bootleg Fire, which has consumed over 200,000 acres. According to the National Interagency Fire Center, 70 fires have burned more than one million acres across the U.S. this wildfire season.

Data from the U.S. Drought Monitor shows drought conditions worsening in the West and Northern High Plains. Lower than expected snow pack, coupled with unseasonably warm dry weather has brought varying degrees of drought to every part of the Treasure state. Cattle producers are watching grazing lands wither and die as their herds search for forage.

Mike Honeycutt, Executive Officer, Montana Department of Livestock: “Normally, we would count on others to have a little bit of hay to help us and there'll be some supply, but other states are dealing with the same or worse conditions that we're dealing with. So we're seeing extremely high hay prices, you know, approaching $300, a ton on some bids, which makes it difficult. So we have poor range conditions, your supplemental feeding is going to be extremely expensive.”

The ongoing drought is hurting Montana pulse crop farmers as well. Grasshoppers have flourished in the dry conditions, destroying over 16 million acres.  

Midweek, pockets of rain delivered some drought relief in across the central and eastern United States. Pop-up storms brought heavy rain, hail and tornadoes, which damaged crops and communities in the Midwest.

For Market to Market, I’m John Torpy

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