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Drought expands; half of U.S. 'abnormally dry' or worse

Agriculture.com Staff 06/15/2006 @ 12:35pm

According to this week's drought monitor map from the USDA and NOAA, more than half of the U.S. is abnormally dry or worse, with 35% of the country experiencing moderate to exceptional drought, an area 17% larger than it was last week. Crops are suffering and farmers are worried, but relief could be on the way for many areas.

The classifications include abnormally dry, moderate drought, severe drought, extreme drought, and exceptional drought (see key, right). The maps also designate in which areas agriculture ("A" on the map) and hydrological (water) supply ("H" on the map) is affected.

Last week (see map, at right), the southern third of Iowa was listed as abnormally dry, but now that part of the state is in the moderate drought category, with abnormally dry conditions across the rest of the state, except the northeast. New abnormally dry conditions are now noted in extreme southwest and much of northeast Minnesota, as well as northeast Wisconsin.

Conditions remain dry along a wide band on both sides of the Missouri River in North and South Dakota, with rankings ranging from abnormally dry to severe drought. New this week, a portion of north-central South Dakota was changed from severe to extreme drought.

In Kansas and Nebraska, conditions deteriorated over the past week, with all of both states now facing at least abnormally dry conditions. Severe drought covers much of central and western Nebraska and western Kansas, with extreme drought in the southwestern parts of both states.

Conditions are close to the same in Missouri and points southward, with some improvement in northwest Missouri thanks to recent thunderstorms. Extreme drought has spread slightly in southernmost Louisiana and Alabama -- ironic after last year's flooding. Since the middle of last June, precipitation totals are more than 20 inches below normal in southeastern Louisiana, southern Mississippi, and coastal sections of Alabama and the Florida Panhandle, according to the National Weather Service.

In New Mexico, Arizona and Texas, conditions continue to range from abnormally dry to the worst ranking of exceptional drought, with the hardest-hit areas in the southern parts of those states. A band of extreme drought, however, extends from New Mexico into the panhandle of Oklahoma and the southeastern corner of Colorado. Conditions were downgraded slightly in parts of central Texas.

Not much change was noted in the southeast, where abnormally dry and moderate drought conditions cover much of Florida, Georgia, the Carolinas and Virginia. However, the eastern half of Alabama and parts of Georgia do show a decline. There has been a slight improvement in Florida, thanks to rains from tropical storm Alberto.

According to this week's drought monitor map from the USDA and NOAA, more than half of the U.S. is abnormally dry or worse, with 35% of the country experiencing moderate to exceptional drought, an area 17% larger than it was last week. Crops are suffering and farmers are worried, but relief could be on the way for many areas.

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