Just like the company that came to visit and stayed too long, the drought has no intention of leaving any time soon.

More than half of the continental United States has been plagued with drought conditions this year. And the latest outlook from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says with the arrival of a weak El Nino weather phenomenon the drought will be sticking around for another six months. The high temperatures and lack of rain has shriveled crops, dried up pastures and ponds and has turned forests in to dry kindling.

NOAA said the El Nino, which should arrive this fall, will only provide “limited drought relief.” This above-average warming of water in the eastern Pacific Ocean occurs every four to five years, and this particular El Nino is expected to be fairly mild.

While some improvements in drought conditions could occur — most likely in the Southwest and southern and central Plains states, dry conditions are expected to continue in the Northwest, Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and the Ohio Valley.

According to NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, they expect El Nino will bring limited rain and snow to the northern tier of the U.S., and to the Mid-Atlantic and Midwest regions. However, it does have the potential to provide beneficial rains across the southern U.S.

If the drought’s grip doesn’t loosen soon, it could play a major role in mid-term elections to be held in November. Earlier this week the Democratic-led Senate approved a $6 billion drought-relief package for farmers and ranchers. However, President Bush contends agriculture’s needs were met with the funding provided in the 2002 Farm Bill. And the Republican-controlled House has not approved any drought aid.

Reuters