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Drought pains sharpen

Jeff Caldwell 07/26/2012 @ 11:05am Multimedia Editor for Agriculture.com and Successful Farming magazine.

Another week of little to no rainfall in much of the Corn Belt now has the worst 2 categories of drought conditions expanding from the western slope of the Rocky Mountains to the eastern Corn Belt and throughout the mid-South.

Thursday's weekly update of the U.S. Drought Monitor shows new pockets of "exceptional" drought (the most severe category) in central Nebraska, southeastern Colorado and western Kansas. Now, about half of Arkansas and the southern reaches of Missouri, Illinois and Indiana as well as western Kentucky are all in that category as well.


Now, the drought's not just growing rapidly in severity in places like these, but growing just as quickly in its geographic coverage.

"Drought conditions now cover just under 64% of the contiguous U.S.," says MDA EarthSat Weather senior ag meteorologist Don Keeney, who adds there is more rain in the forecast for the nation's center, but it will likely do little to ease the severity of the growing drought. "Drought conditions should continue to intensify across the southwestern Midwest, northern Delta, and central Plains."

The good news, though, is the super-heated air may be on its way out of the Corn Belt for the summer, says Freese-Notis Weather, Inc., senior meteorologist Craig Solberg.

"Yesterday may have been the hottest day that we see in the Corn Belt (on average) for the rest of this summer, but this is not a cool pattern coming up and we will still be seeing lots of 90s for highs and locally to 100 or more in central and western parts of the Corn Belt next week," he said Thursday.

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