In the Midwest, the Rain Keeps Coming. Farmers Coping. | Climate Denial Crock of the Week
Of course, the averages above obscure a lot of regional and temporal variability, and the devil of drought impact lies in those details. U.S. climate is famously variable from year to year, decade to decade, and region to region (see Figure 2). As human-produced greenhouse gases boost temperatures over the long haul, both globally and nationally, the most intense precipitation episodes are getting even heavier, while the intense droughts that do occur in places like California are increasingly “hot” droughts, where the heat pulls moisture from vegetation and the landscape more effectively. We may see similar tendencies toward hot droughts in other parts of the U.S. as the climate continues to warm. The upshot is that drought impacts can intensify in a warming world even in places where the long-term precipitation average, across both wet and dry periods, is unchanged or even rising slightly.
A 2018 study found that California’s wet season is likely to get compressed into a shorter window, likely leading to precipitation “whiplash” between wet winters and hot, dry summers.