Isaac may have caused -- and still be causing -- misery on the Gulf Coast, but its arrival over the middle Mississippi Valley is welcome relief for drought-stricken farmers.
The tropical depression is expected to dump up to 8 inches of rain over Arkansas and Missouri before heading into the Ohio River Valley over the weekend.
“We’ve got a much-needed rainfall,’’ said Tommy Jackson of the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management.
David Miskus, a meteorologist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center, said that a slow, steady rain would improve drought conditions.
“I had 2 ½ inches in my rain gauge, and I didn’t even have a puddle in my yard,’’ Shane McElroy, an Arkansas cattle rancher, said in an interview. “It just all soaked in, which was great.’’
“Is it going to fix this problem? No sir,’’ he added. “It’s going to help, but it’s not going to help over a long period.’’
But heavy rain could lead to flash flooding.
“In some areas, the drought is so bad that the ground is hard and crusty, so fast-moving rain would run off,’’ Miskus said.
“Slow, steady rain over a matter of days would allow the water to penetrate the hard soil and soak into the ground to recharge the soil moisture,’’ he added.
The rain will fall in only a small part of the country suffering from drought.
Still, “the good news is it’s rain,’’ Miskus added in an interview. “They can use it.’’
Todd Davis, an economist with the American Farm Bureau Federation, said the rain is “too late to help the crops this year.’’
Miskus, however, said that while the rain is too late to help corn, it could help soybean crops that are more drought- and heat-tolerant than corn.