National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

Rains Alleviate Dryness in Wisconsin

Updated on Thursday, September 13, 2018
Next Scheduled Update Whenever Dryness Develops




From September 4 and September 11, 3 to 8 inches of rain fell across the abnormally dry (D0) areas of Clark, Jackson, and Trempealeau counties in western Wisconsin.  This ended the dryness across these counties.  There are no longer any counties in the La Crosse Hydrologic Service area which are being impacted by abnormally dry (D0) or drought (D1-D4) conditions.


U.S. Drought Monitor Summary:

In the September 11 release of the U.S. Drought Monitor, abnormally dry (D0) to severe (D2) drought conditions was seen in southeast and south-central Iowa.

Abnormally Dry (D0) to Moderate (D1) drought was found across northern, south-central and southeast Lower Michigan, northwest Minnesota.

Abnormally dry (D0) were found in parts of eastern Upper Michigan, the Minnesota Arrowhead, and a small part of northeast Illinois just south of Chicago.

Note: The data cutoff for Drought Monitor maps is Tuesday at 7 a.m. Central Daylight Time.

U.S. Drought Monitor for September 11, 2018 

State Drought Statistics

Iowa Drought Statistics

Minnesota drought statistics

Wisconsin Drought Statistics




Local Area Affected:

None of the area is being impacted by abnormally dry (D0) or drought (D1-D4) conditions.
La Crosse WI CWA Latest Drought Information

State/Local Government Actions:

No known actions are taking place at this time.

Climatological Summary:

From June 1 through September 11, between 13 and 29 inches of rain fell across north-central, west-central, and central Wisconsin. This is anywhere from 1 to 11 inches wetter than normal.  This has ended the abnormally dry (D0) conditions across the area.  Here is a map of the precipitation deficits during this time period.

Wisconsin rainfall deficits June 1 through September 11, 2018.

The following tables show the precipitation totals and deficits from June 1 through September 11, 2018.

Western Wisconsin

Rain Total
(June 1 to
September 11, 2018)
from Normal
Black River Falls Sewage (Jackson County) 13.16" -1.53"
Medford (Taylor County) 14.09" -0.40"
Trempealeau Dam 6 (Trempealeau County) 15.40" +1.33"
Alma Dam 4 (Buffalo County) 15.81" -0.49"
Viroqua (Vernon County) 16.18" +0.77"
La Crosse Municipal Airport (La Crosse County) 16.75" +2.50"
Mather 3 NW (Jackson County) 18.40" +3.60"
Necedah 5WNW (Juneau County) 18.96" +4.85"
La Crosse 4 NNW (La Crosse County) 18.99" +4.28"
Sparta (Monroe County) 19.40" +4.49"
West Salem (La Crosse County) 19.96" +5.71"
Friendship (Adams County) 20.56" +5.38"
Cuba City (Lafayette County) 21.49" +6.99"
Steuben 4 SE (Crawford County) 22.39" +7.73"
Prairie du Chien (Crawford County) 22.50" +8.18"
Reedsburg (Sauk County) 22.63" +6.56"
Readstown (Vernon County) 22.66" +6.75"
La Farge (Vernon County) 23.95" +8.33"
Lynxville Dam 9 (Crawford County) 23.97" +9.71"
La Crosse NWS (La Crosse County) 24.47" +9.25"
Ontario 3E (Vernon County) 26.40" +11.10"
Cashton 3 NNW (Monroe County) 28.54" NA


The U.S. Drought Monitor is a weekly collaborative effort between a number of federal agencies including NOAA/NWS, U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Drought Mitigation Center. Details and explanations of the Drought Monitor can found at the web site:

The categories of drought are defined as follows:

Abnormally Dry (D0)
- Going into drought: short-term dryness slowing planting, growth of crops or pastures; fire risk above average. Coming out of drought: some lingering water deficits; pastures or crops not fully recovered.

Moderate Drought (D1) - Some damage to crops, pastures; fire risk high; streams, reservoirs, or wells low, some water shortages developing or imminent, voluntary water use restrictions requested.

Severe Drought (D2) - Crop or pasture losses likely; fire risk very high; water shortages common; water restrictions imposed.

Extreme Drought (D3) - Major crop/pasture losses; extreme fire danger; widespread water shortages or restrictions.

Exceptional Drought (D4) - Exceptional and widespread crop/pasture losses; exceptional fire risk; shortages of water in reservoirs, streams, and wells, creating water emergencies.

Potential Evapotranspiration Rates:

Disaster & Drought Assistance:

Other Drought Web Sites:

Drought ACIS:

This tool allows you the ability to explore data related to drought from the Regional Climate Centers (RCCs).  You can look at length or periods without rain, temperature data, and more.  Click on the logo below to gain access to this tool.

River and Stream Flow Conditions:

As of September 11, the river and stream flows were above- and much-above across the southern two-thirds of Wisconsin. 



Hourly and forecast river stages out to 90 days can be found at:

Additional Current stream and river stages may be viewed at:

An interactive table of sites which are at or near record flows can be found at:

Agricultural Impacts:


According to USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, there were 3.3 days suitable for fieldwork.  The previous week’s storms continued into this week, with additional heavy rain falling across the state on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.  This worsened flooding in southern Wisconsin and slowed storm cleanup and damage assessments.  By the week’s end, some rivers were still cresting, and damage to rural roads and infrastructure was still being repaired.  Sunny weather marked the second half of the week, helping to firm up wet soils.  Previously dry pastures were bouncing back, and corn and soybeans were maturing rapidly with abundant soil moisture and cool nights.  Farmers rushed to make hay and corn silage as soon as conditions allowed.  Reporters noted that early corn harvest was in response to drought damage in parts of northern Wisconsin and tar spot disease in parts of southern Wisconsin. Manure spreading was starting up as fields were cleared.

  • Topsoil moisture supplies were rated 0 percent very short, 2 percent short, 68 percent adequate and 30 percent surplus. 
  • Subsoil moisture supplies were rated 0 percent very short, 4 percent short, 72 percent adequate and 24 percent surplus.

Ninety-two percent of corn has reached the dough stage, 7 days ahead of both last year and the 5-year average.  Seventy percent of corn was dented, 9 days ahead of last year and 6 days ahead of the average.  Twenty-one percent was mature, 8 days ahead of the average.  Corn for silage was 12 percent harvested, 1 day ahead of the average.  Corn condition was 75 percent good to excellent.

Leaves were turning color on 54 percent of soybeans, 6 days ahead of last year and 4 days ahead of the average.  Fourteen percent were reported dropping leaves, 6 days ahead of last year and 3 days ahead of the average.  Soybean condition was 77 percent good to excellent.

Oats harvested for grain was reported as 92 percent complete, even with last year but 2 days behind the average.

Potato harvest was reported as 28 percent complete, 12 days behind last year.  Potato condition was 73 percent good to excellent.

Thirteen percent of winter wheat was planted, 2 days ahead of last year.  Two percent of the winter wheat crop has emerged.

The third cutting of alfalfa was 93 percent complete, 7 days behind last year, but even with the average.  The fourth cutting was 47 percent complete, 5 days behind last year, but 1 day ahead of the average.  All hay condition was reported 76 percent in good to excellent condition.

Pasture condition was rated 66 percent in good to excellent condition, compared with 63 percent in good to excellent condition last week.

The following are selected quotes from Farm Reporters and County Ag Agents:

In La Crosse County, there was some sunshine this past week, but not much.   People are starting to get back into the fields although the ground is still very wet.  Most days grass is wet until after noon.  Haven't talked to dairy farms yet but with many roads south of Hwy 33 washed out, I wonder how many are having problems with getting milk to market. 

NASS Soil Moisture Conditions in Wisconsin



Percent of Moisture
Very Short
Wisconsin as of
September 10, 2018
North-Central Top Soil
1 84
Sub Soil 0 1 85 14
West-Central Top Soil 1 10 77 12
Sub Soil 1 16 72 11
Central Top Soil 0 1 41 58
Sub Soil 1 4 43 52


Soil moisture supply measures how much moisture is present in cropland top soil during the week. Soil moisture is reported as a percentage. The categories very short, short, adequate and surplus must add up to 100%.

Very Short - Soil moisture supplies are significantly less than what is required for normal plant development. Growth has been stopped, or nearly so, and plants are showing visible signs of moisture stress. Under these conditions, plants will quickly suffer irreparable damage.

Short - Soil dry.  Seed germination and/or normal crop growth and development would be curtailed.

Adequate - Soil moist.  Seed germination and/or crop growth and development would be normal or unhindered.

Surplus - Soil wet.  Fields may be muddy and will generally be unable to absorb additional moisture.  Young developing crops may be yellowing from excess moisture.

The map below lists the Agricultural Districts in southeast Minnesota, western Wisconsin, and northeast Iowa.

Agricultural Divisions

For additional information on agriculture impacts may be viewed from the:

Fire Danger Hazards:

As of the morning of September 11, low fire danger was reported across the state of Wisconsin.  This includes Adams, Buffalo, Clark, Crawford, Grant, Jackson, Juneau, La Crosse, Monroe, Richland, Taylor, Trempealeau, and Vernon counties in the La Crosse Hydrologic Service Area. 

As a reminder, citizens should always check with local officials in their area before undertaking any outside burning.  Citizens are liable for damages and suppression costs of any wildfire they may start.

Description of Fire Danger Ratings

For updated DNR Fire Conditions consult the following Web Sites:

The Keetch-Byram Drought Index (KBDI) is a drought index that is specifically related to fire potential. The KDBI is broken into four categories which indicate the susceptibility of ground fuels to fire danger. Below are the four categories and a brief description of each.

Keetch-Byram Drought Index (KDBI)
KBDI Value
Description of Fire Potential
0 to 200
Low - Wet with little danger of fire initiation
201 to 400
Moderate - Drying occurring with some fire danger
401 to 600
High - Ground cover dry and will burn readily
601 to 800
Extreme - Dead and live fuels will burn readily

KBDI and Dead Fuel Moisture data can be found through the:

Burn Bans:

Precipitation/Temperature Outlooks:

From September 12 through September 18, temperatures will average above-normal and the precipitation will average below-normal.   During this time frame, the daily average temperatures range from 58 to 63 degrees and the normal precipitation is around 8 tenths of an inch. 

Beyond this time frame, the 8 to 14-day forecast (September 19-25) from the Climate Prediction Center (CPC) calls for near to below-normal temperatures and above-normal precipitation.  During this time frame, the daily average temperatures range from 55 to 60 degrees and the normal precipitation is around 9 tenths of an inch. 

The CPC seasonal outlook  from October 1-December 31 has enhanced chances of above-normal temperatures and equal chances for above-, near-, and below-normal precipitation for the Upper Mississippi River Valley.

Below are the seasonal outlooks for the next year.

Seasonal Temperature Outlooks

Precipitation Outlooks



For updated temperature and precipitation probabilities consult the following Climate Prediction Center (CPC) Web Sites:

NCEP's CFSv2 (Coupled Forecast System Model Version 2):

Questions or Comments:

If you have any questions or comments about this drought information please contact the NWS La Crosse at:

Telephone: 608-784-8275

The Climate focal point at the NWS La Crosse is Jeff Boyne.

Other Contacts:

Local Agricultural Impacts:

State climate impacts: