Thursday, October 25, 2012

Rains help shrink drought but High Plains in the US still parched

Carey Gillam in Reuters: Many areas of the drought-stricken United States continued to see improvement over the last week as steady rains started recharging parched soils, but for key agricultural areas of the U.S. Heartland, there was little relief, according to a climatology report issued Thursday. "We've seen some improvement ... but the impact of the drought and the dryness is far from over," said Brian Fuchs, a climatologist at the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Roughly 61.79 percent of the contiguous United States was suffering from at least "moderate" drought as of October 23, down from 62.39 percent a week earlier, according to Thursday's Drought Monitor, a weekly compilation of data gathered by federal and academic scientists.

The portion of the United States under "exceptional" drought - the most dire classification - held steady at 5.84 percent and was mostly in western Kansas and Nebraska.

In the High Plains, which include Kansas, Nebraska and the Dakotas, severe or worse drought levels covered 84.90 percent of the region, improved from 87.42 percent the prior week. An estimated 27.44 percent of the region was still in the worst level of drought, unchanged from a week earlier.

Nebraska is the worst hit state in the country, with fully 77.58 percent of the state classified in exceptional drought, unchanged from a week earlier. Winter wheat farmers who have planted or are wrapping up planting their new crop will need significant rainfall and/or snow to provide enough moisture to grow a healthy crop....

Plaque, 1895, Rookwood Pottery Company, painted by Albert Robert Valentien (1862-1925), earthenware, standard glze line, Cincinnati Art Museum, shot by Wmpearl, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication

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