Sorry heartland: Debilitating drought persists

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A blizzard and heavy snow were unable to dent the drought’s impact on the northern Plains last week, and the latest Drought Monitor shows that the drought instead continues to creep to other states. Moderate or worse drought now blankets 62 percent of the contiguous United States, shifting slightly from last week’s report.

According to South Dakota Climatologist Dennis Todey, very few areas benefited from the weekend storm that buried parts of North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin.

"The blizzard will do very little for soil moisture because soils were frozen or near freezing prior to the storm," Todey said.

As a result, South Dakota remains among the states most impacted by the drought. Only minimal shifts have been reported in the state since the end of September. Kansas and Nebraska, also reporting high percentages of drought, have seen little change in their drought conditions for months. This week was no different:  



  • Exceptional drought: 36
  • Extreme and exceptional drought: 78
  • Weekly precipitation: 0.01 inch of rain reported along spots of the northern and eastern borders. All other areas experienced a dry week.





  • Exceptional drought: 77
  • Extreme and exceptional drought: 96
  • Weekly precipitation: 0.01 inch to 0.10 inch reported throughout the state.




South Dakota

  • Exceptional drought: 31
  • Extreme and exceptional drought: 63
  • Weekly precipitation: The weekend snowstorm brought 5 to 10 inches of snow to eastern South Dakota but only contributed 1 inch of soil moisture





  • Exceptional drought: 35
  • Extreme and exceptional drought: 91
  • Weekly precipitation: Spotty showers brought up to 0.01 inch of rain to some areas in the eastern half of the state.



Overall, 16 states are affected by extreme or worse drought, and the intensity of the drought continues to grow each week. See how your state is doing.

The dry start to the meteorological winter has made many farmers wondering what 2013 may hold. In a webinar earlier this week, Jed Lafferty, managing director of life sciences for Planalytics admitted that it’s too early to tell if El Niño, La Niña or a neutral weather pattern will develop next spring.

Despite the possibilities of drought continuing well into 2013, one thing offers a ray of hope for drought victims: weather rarely repeats itself from one year to the next.  Read more here.

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