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Central U.S. drought intensifies

Jeff Caldwell 08/23/2012 @ 9:00am Multimedia Editor for Agriculture.com and Successful Farming magazine.

The majority of the states of Kansas, Oklahoma and Arkansas, as well as major portions of Nebraska and Missouri are under exceptional drought conditions, the most severe classification on the U.S. Drought Monitor, according to Thursday's update of the Monitor.

Though cooler temperatures were a common feature of the weather in the last week, it didn't stop the drought's growth; in addition to those areas under the most severe drought conditions, the majority of an area from western Nebraska to Indiana is under extreme drought.

See how the drought's intensified in in the last 6 weeks


"More widespread rains in the Midwest alleviated some moderate to exceptional drought as well as abnormal dryness through southern Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio and into western Kentucky again this week. Lingering drought impacts remain in many areas, leaving devastated agriculture in its wake," according to NOAA National Climate Data Center specialist Michael Brewer. "Despite a much cooler week this week, Exceptional and extreme drought continue to expand in the area from northern Missouri and into Kansas and Nebraska where beneficial precipitation has been hard to come by. North Dakota saw a minor change in moderate drought and abnormal dryness in the north central part of the state."

Though rainfall chances increase over the weekend, the relief, as has been the case throughout this summer, will be short-lived if at all, says MDA EarthSat Weather senior ag meteorologist Don Keeney.

"Rains are expected to pick up a cross the central and eastern Plains and west central Midwest this week, which should help ease drought conditions there a bit," he says. "However, much more widespread and persistent rains will be needed across much of the mid-continent to significantly reduce the drought."

Looking further ahead, temperatures are expected to run at or above average, Brewer adds.

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