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Could tropical storm Isaac actually help break US drought?

Tropical storm Isaac is bearing down on the Gulf Coast, but once it gets inland, it is expected to bring much needed rain to drought-hit farmlands.

A boy plays in the surf in waves ahead of tropical storm Isaac in Orange Beach, Ala., Monday.

John Bazemore/AP

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Although tropical storm Isaac is causing evacuations and is expected to lead to power outages when it comes ashore, there may be a silver lining for drought-pressed farmers farther inland.

After the storm leaves the coast, it is expected to move north, dumping heavy rain up the Mississippi Delta.

Although it is probably too late to help this year’s harvest, agricultural experts say the rain could help recharge the soil for next year’s crop in Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio. It could also add needed water to the river systems that drain into the Mississippi. And by adding moisture to the air, the storm may also set the stage for more rain in the future in some drought-effected areas.

“Everyone will welcome this rain,” says Dale Mohler, senior meteorologist at Accuweather State College, Pa. “The benefits outweigh the negatives.”

Mr. Mohler forecasts the southern part of the Mississippi Delta could receive four to eight inches of rain and the more northern areas could get two to three inches.


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