Drought far from over in western plains

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Drought MonitorDrought Monitor map released on May 16, 2013. In the latest U.S. Drought Monitor report released on Thursday, nearly 50 percent of the nation is in moderate or worse drought, and thanks to a wet, cold spring, much of the Corn Belt drought has been pushed into remission.  

Nebraska, which had been the driest state in the Union for nearly six months, is now showing signs of recovery. Sixty-two percent of the state remains in extreme drought, but this is considerably improved from the beginning of April when 76 percent was reported in exceptional drought. Abnormally dry conditions, the lowest intensity recorded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), have even crept back into the severe southeastern corner of the Cornhusker state.

Kansas is another state that has been fighting against the long-lasting drought. Nearly half – 48 percent – of the Sunflower State is in moderate or worse drought, with worsening drought conditions confined to the western parts of the state. Drought has been alleviated in the counties along the Missouri border.

However, the drought isn’t ready to give up its persistent grasp on the nation. It is now shifting shifted further to the South and West. The worst of drought can be seen in the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles, southeast Colorado, eastern New Mexico and western Kansas.

In its ClimateWatch Magazine, NOAA examined April’s unusual weather pattern.

“While April lived up to its wet reputation in some regions, the Southwest saw below-average precipitation during the month exacerbating the drought already in place in those regions. New Mexico had its 12th driest April on record,” the article said.

Extreme or worse conditions are reported in 82 percent of New Mexico, 36 percent of Texas, 32 percent of Oklahoma, and 15 percent of Colorado.

Click here to see the Drought Monitor map.

One expert warned Oklahoma that it’s “starting to look at lot like last year at this time,” according to an article by the Altus Times.

 “We are actually worse off this year than were this time last year,” Gary McManus, Climatologist with Oklahoma State Climatological Survey, during a “drought talk” earlier this week.

Read more here.



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