Drought swells in the Southwest

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click image to zoomDrought Monitor Drought Monitor map released on May 30, 2013. Soaking rains eased drought over much of the storm-battered heartland, but Southwestern states weren’t as lucky, according to the latest Drought Monitor report.

While many states in the Corn Belt saw upwards of 3 inches of rain over the last 30 days, the same wasn’t true for parts of Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. Less than one-half inch of rain was reported for this dry area.

For these states, drought dominates and will likely continue to do so through the summer:

  • Colorado: Nothing changed this week in Colorado’s drought. Twenty-four percent is still in extreme to exceptional drought, centered in the southeastern corner. North-central areas of the state have even reported abnormal dryness.
  • Kansas: The drought has been greatly reduced in the eastern half, but western Kansas remains until intense drought. Forty-eight percent of the state – primarily west of Interstate 35 – is in extreme or worse drought.  
  • New Mexico: Few states now come close to topping New Mexico as the driest state in the Union. The majority – 82 percent – of the state is in extreme or worse drought. Just a few isolated areas remain under moderate drought.
  • Oklahoma: Few states have as mixed drought conditions as Oklahoma. The drought has been erased in the eastern half, but the Oklahoma panhandle is a different story. Twenty-seven percent, mostly focused in the Panhandle, is in extreme to exceptional drought.
  • Texas: While spotty areas of exceptional drought dot the southern half of the Lone Star State, the Texas Panhandle is by far the direst in the state. Nearly one-third of the state is in extreme or worse drought.

Nationally, less than half of the country – 44 percent – is in moderate or worse drought, down from 46 percent last week and 61 percent on Jan. 1.

Check out the Drought Monitor here.

This summer may not offer much relief for these states or even the central Corn Belt. Harris-Mann Climatology believes that the current drought pattern will expand over the central and southern Great Plains and western Midwest by later this summer. This pattern could be the costliest U.S. natural disaster of 2012 and 2013. Read, “Drought damage could top $200 billion.”



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