Parched areas continue to shrink, but not in worst-hit regions

Source: Annie Snider, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, October 26, 2012

US Drought Monitor, October 23, 2012

The U.S. Drought Monitor is produced in partnership between the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the United States Department of Agriculture, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Areas hit by this year’s gripping drought shrank slightly for the fourth week in a row, although the hardest-hit regions saw little improvement, according to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor, released this morning.

The percentage of the country in moderate drought or worse shrank half a percentage point this week, to 51.7 percent, according to the map. Thirty-two percent of the country is in severe drought or worse, down a tenth of a percentage point from last week, but areas in extreme drought or worse rose slightly to a little more than 16 percent.

Nebraska, where the worst of the drought is centered, and the High Plains region as a whole saw only minor changes. Although the total area in drought dipped slightly there, the area in exceptional drought remained steady at 27 percent. The Dakotas saw showers that replenished soils, but the High Plains had no such luck. Lack of moisture in the soil there continued to limit winter wheat emergence and development.