Shifting drought conditions highlight improvement in some states in the western Corn Belt, but in the southern Plains the drought continues to spread.
According to Thursday’s Drought Monitor report, drought conditions across the contiguous United States are improving slightly. This week the report showed 51.64 percent in moderate or worse drought, compared to 51.86 percent last week.
However, the drought picture is much different in the Corn Belt.
To the east, drought is of little issue - Ohio and Indiana haven’t reported significant drought since October 2012. Further to the west, drought lingers but is showing signs of lessening drought:
- Nebraska in particular reported minimal shifts in drought, but even slight shifts mark a welcome change. Currently 76.16 percent of the Cornhusker State is in exceptional drought, down from 76.41 percent last week. Many areas need at least 6-9 inches of rain to stop the drought and replenish soil.
- Kansas was the big winner in this week’s drought improvement among the Corn Belt states. Seventeen percent of the state is in exceptional drought, a drop of 4 percentage points from last week. Areas reporting moderate drought are growing, primarily in the eastern half where recent snow and rain showers soaked the dry ground.
Drought is expanding in the southern Plains. Oklahoma remains divided, with the eastern half showing more improvement than the western portion. Exceptional drought in the state grew a tad, moving from 9.71 percent last week to 9.90 percent this week.
Texas, however, is an entirely different story. Drought in the Lone Star state is quickly spreading. Currently 11 percent is in exceptional drought. However, nearly all of Texas is in some sort of drought. Rain could bring relief to the state next week according to a report from the Houston Chronicle, available here.
Not all states are dealing with intense dryness though. In North Dakota and Minnesota, the National Weather Service has urged those from Fargo, N.D. to Moorhead, Minn., to prepare for flooding.
According to the Christian Science Monitor, officials have warned that there is a 50 percent change of river levels reaching as high as 38 feet in these areas, making it the fifth-highest crest on record. Read, “Fargo braces for record floods — again — but this time it's ready.”