As Isaac bore down on New Orleans, folks north of the Gulf coast along the Mississippi River were hoping the rains would reach their parched corn and soybean fields.
Up to 16 inches of rain fell around the Big Easy, flooding parts of the city with a storm surge that topped levies built up following Hurricane Katrina. (Katrina hit seven years to the day when Isaac came ashore.)
As the Category 1 hurricane, the first of the season to hit the U.S. mainland, made its way north some areas experienced loss of electricity, other with extreme flooding and some had damage to property due to high winds. Early damage assessments suggest the first tropical storm of 2012 could reach $1.5 billion.
“The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s addition of the 218 counties means that more than half of all U.S. counties — 1,584 in 32 states — have been designated primary disaster areas this growing season, the vast majority of them mired in a drought that’s considered the worst in decades,” according to the Huffington Post.
(Most of Minnesota was spared from the brunt of this year’s drought.)
Grain farmers have been hit hardest by this year’s drought. However, cattle ranchers have been saddled with higher feed prices, causing meat prices and produce to soar.
The impact of Isaac’s rain on the country’s midsection should bring a measure of relief.
“There are going to be some good rains, but I wouldn’t say they are going to be drought busters,” said John Eise, National Weather Service climate services program manager in Kansas City, Mo. “It could ameliorate the drought somewhat, but it’s not going to end it.”
The much needed rain did cause some degree of optimism among some farmers who were racing to the fields to plant before the rains hit around Nashville, Tenn.
As Isaac was downgraded to a tropical storm by the National Weather Service on Wednesday, the storm had barreled through Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri and then took a hard right turn pummeling Illinois, Indiana, and moved east to the Atlantic coast states.
Some will remember Isaac as a costly Category 1 hurricane, while other will remember it as a drought buster.