More major dryness forecast for 2013

Posted: Monday, February 11, 2013

Another year of drought in the United States seems likely, according to John Nielsen-Gammon, a state climatologist and Texas A&M University professor. Above-average precipitation could end the current drought, he said, but the forecast isn’t looking good.

“The seasonal forecasts right now are tilted to normal to below-normal rainfall, which means the odds are stacked against ending it anytime soon,” Nielsen-Gammon said.

As of the end of January, more than half the United States was in drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, and about 27 percent of the High Plains was placed in the category of “exceptional” drought.

Cattle ranchers are unlikely to expand their herds in these conditions. Last week, the Department of Agriculture reported that the country’s cattle herd was the smallest since 1952 at the beginning of the year. The cost of feed has increased and pastures are dry, so many ranchers responded by culling herds (Elizabeth Campbell, Bloomberg, Feb. 6).