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Blizzard gives small relief to U.S. drought

John Walter 12/20/2012 @ 11:46am

The blizzard this week in the Midwest and Plains states is expected to improve drought
conditions in the region, but much more precipitation will be needed to provide any major change in the situation, forecasters said Thursday. That's true "especially across the Plains and western Midwest," Kyle Tapley, MDA Weather Services, wrote in his daily report.

Nationwide, 61.8% of the contiguous U.S. is experiencing drought conditions this week,
nearly unchanged from last week, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, which was released on Tuesday, December 17.

Drought conditions were seen as unchanged in the Midwest, despite improving conditions.

"Portions of the central Plains and Midwest recorded light precipitation from Nebraska and Iowa into South Dakota, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, where amounts were generally less than 1 inch and most fell on unfrozen soils," the National Drought Summary said. "This allowed for good infiltration into the top layers of the profile.

Dry soil conditions still threaten the winter wheat crop in the High Plains, which is now 60% in "extreme" or "exceptional" drought, up 1.59 points from last week. The entire state of Oklahoma is still experiencing some level of drought.

The eastern U.S. received significant precipitation, the largest amounts in the Southeast, where up to 3 inches of rain was recorded. 

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