Drought continues to be a significant concern for producers throughout the Central Plains and the West.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Climate Data Center, moderate to extreme drought covers approximately 70 percent of the western states from the Rockies to the Pacific Coast. During the peak of the 2003 drought, about 80 percent of this region was affected, which rivals the extensive drought area of the worst 20th century droughts.

The Central Plains states also continue to experience drought, with much of Nebraska and the Dakotas seeing only 60 to 75 percent of normal rainfall during 2003. The year ended with December posting warmer than normal temperatures for much of the region. Most of the Central Plains were 2 degrees to 4 degrees above normal temperatures in December, with much of the Dakotas and Minnesota 4 degrees to 6 degrees above normal.

For more information about drought conditions visit: www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/research/2003/ann/drought-summary.html