Saturday, April 20, 2013

US drought falls below 50 percent for first time in 10 months

Science Daily: The area of the contiguous United States in moderate drought or worse fell below 50 percent for the first time since June 19, 2012, according to the latest edition of the U.S. Drought Monitor released Thursday.

Heavy precipitation across the Plains and the upper Midwest continued to ease drought. The area of the lower 48 states in moderate drought or worse declined to 47.82 percent, from 50.82 percent a week ago.

"We've been on a steady but slow recovery path from drought since the peak in September 2012," said Mark Svoboda, University of Nebraska-Lincoln climatologist and a founding author of the Monitor. "We've seen a much more active weather pattern lately across the midsection of the country, which has been eroding the intensity of drought as we head into spring. This is exactly what we needed."

Svoboda, the head of the Monitoring Program area at the National Drought Mitigation Center based at UNL, cautioned that improvement is still needed before the hot, dry season sets in.

Drought Monitor authors synthesize many drought indicators into a single map that identifies areas that are abnormally dry, in moderate drought, in severe drought, extreme drought and exceptional drought.

In the Midwest, heavy rains soaked into thawing soils and reduced drought in Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin and Missouri, observed this week's narrative accompanying the Drought Monitor map. The area of the Midwest in moderate drought or worse declined to 20.94 percent from 32.24 percent the preceding week, according to statistics released with the map....


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