Downpours in the Midwest this week have damaged crops and could lead to a delay in grain shipments.
Some parts of the Midwest — including parts of Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota, and Nebraska — received 5 to 10 inches of rain over the course of a week, an amount that’s the equivalent of two months of rainfall in the region. In Minnesota, the rain caused mudslides and forced evacuations, and in Minneapolis, four inches of rain fell on Thursday, breaking records for the most rain to ever fall in the city on one day in June. Rains also forced a bridge connecting Minnesota and Wisconsin to close indefinitely on Monday, due to high water levels. Minnesota’s governor declared a state of emergency in 35 Minnesota counties on Thursday, and the Twin Cities have set records for the wettest year so far since 1871 and one of the wettest Junes ever recorded.
“Right now what we’re seeing is a statewide disaster, really,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) said Sunday. “From International Falls on the Canadian border down to Luverne on the Iowa border, it really covered the whole state.”
— KARE 11 (@kare11) June 19, 2014
— Omaha World-Herald (@OWHnews) June 21, 2014
The rain has damaged corn and soybean crops, according to local reports, with water slow to drain from farmers’ fields. If farmers can get the water off their crops over the next few days, the crops could survive, and soybeans can be replanted this late in the season. The rains also elevated river levels, which could temporarily halt grain shipments in the region.
The Midwest’s recent patterns of floods, droughts and damaged crops are in line with predictions for the region in this year’s National Climate Assessment.
Texas, too, experienced some major flooding this week, with the city of Glen Rose receiving 8.5 inches of rain on Sunday. The rain in Texas did provide some relief for the drought-stricken state — this year was the fourth-driest on record before the rains fell; after, it was the sixth-driest. Texas and neighboring Louisiana were also hit by flooding last month.
As rains soak the Midwest, California is parched, with 100 percent of the state in the most severe stages of drought. California Gov. Jerry Brown linked the state’s epic drought and ramped-up wildfire season to climate change last month, saying that the severe weather patterns prove that “humanity is on a collision course with nature.”
Science has shown that climate change will exacerbate — and likely already is exacerbating — heavy rainfall and drought conditions throughout the U.S. These events are sometimes sequential: long periods of drought can be followed by torrential downpours, making it difficult for the parched soil to absorb the rain and leading to flooding.