Drought epicenter pushing west

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It’s going to be a long, dry summer for the western half of the United States.

In its latest “Drought Monitor” report, the National Drought Mitigation Center shows that drought has a firm hold on the Southwest. New Mexico is still the driest state in the nation with 90 percent in extreme or worse drought as of June 18.

Colorado is another state battling intense drought with more than one-third of the state in extreme or exceptional drought. After fighting one of the worst wildfires in Colorado history, the forecast of a drought-filled summer is already fueling more wildfire concerns.

click image to zoomDrought MonitorThe Drought Monitor map released on June 20, 2013. Other states battling the prolonged drought include western Kansas, western Oklahoma and the Texas Handle. Overall, 19 percent of the corn grown and 46 percent of the cattle inventory in the U.S is within an area experiencing drought.

But the Southwest isn’t the only region to live in the shadow of drought.  

Bloomberg reports in an article here that a lack of heavy snowfall in the Rocky Mountains could mean water supply problems for western states.

 “We have seen the shift of the epicenter to continue to push west,” Mark Svobod with National Drought Mitigation Center said in a conference call. “We have seen a steady push but we still have a large footprint across the country.”

In California, the drought is just beginning to take hold. Currently 67 percent of the state is in severe drought, up from 53 percent reported last week. This is the highest level reported in the state since 2000.

Click here to read more from the Drought Monitor.

The “U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook,” released by the Climate Prediction Center on Thursday, shows that Arizona is the only state expected to see drought improvement through the end of September. The Outlook shows that, unlike other summer drought forecasts, much of the central and eastern Corn Belt should be free from drought.

See the Outlook here.

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S. Butz    
Iowa  |  June, 21, 2013 at 10:08 AM

Angela, your first sentence, "It’s going to be a long, dry summer, especially for those in the western half of the country", implies that everyone will have a dry summer, especially those in the West. That's total misleading - 80% of U.S. corn and soybean acres have been under flood or excessive moisture conditions all spring. To be accurate, you would have reported that 2012 drought conditions are almost entirely relieved east of the Great Plains. There is some skill involved in reading a map!

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