While the devastating tornado near Oklahoma City dominated news reports this week, the US Department of Agriculture noted that during the previous week, the central Plains and western Corn Belt experienced record high temperatures above 100°F while heavy rainfall in parts of Iowa, Minnesota and the Dakotas brought planting to a standstill.
The May 21 Weekly Weather and Crop Bulletin described the rush to plant the new corn crop before a new storm system prevented further fieldwork from happening.
“In the southern and eastern Corn Belt, fieldwork continued through week’s end,” the report said. “Although many other parts of the nation were also able to catch up on previously delayed planting activities, mid-to-late week rainfall limited fieldwork from the southeastern Plains to the southern Appalachians.”
The USDA said abnormally high temperatures were the norm in the western two-thirds of the United States, with weekly temperatures averaging more than 10 degrees Fahrenheit above normal on the central High Plains.
“On May 14, a phenomenal surge of heat reached the central Plains and western Corn Belt, resulting in several monthly record highs and widespread readings above 100° F,” the USDA said.
Toward the end of the week ending May 18, triple-digit heat developed in the south-central US and rainfall largely bypassed the southern High Plains. As a result, there was further deterioration in the condition of rangeland, pastures and winter wheat, the USDA said.