Drought has faded from nearly half of the country, but the Drought Monitor isn’t staying quiet for many states in the West and Southwest.
New Mexico, with about 95 percent in extreme or worse drought, continues its reign on the driest state in the Union. The combination of drought, winds and little moisture created the “perfect recipe” for dust storms, which have blown through both New Mexico and Colorado over the past several weeks. Even veteran farmers and ranchers in New Mexico have been surprised by the magnitude of the drought.
“I’m 51 years old. I was born here, and I’ve never lived anywhere else,” New Mexico farmer Lane Grau told the Albuquerque Journal in an article here. “And this is the worst I’ve ever seen it. It’s crazy dry.”
Other states in the area are also struggling against drought:
- Colorado – 39 percent in extreme or worse drought
Colorado has made headlines recently as a combination of dust storms and wildfires inundated the state. Conditions are worsening, and the latest U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook expects no improvement through the end of September.
- Nebraska – 35 percent in extreme or worse drought
Conditions in the Cornhusker State are improving from earlier this year when 77 percent of the state was in extreme drought. However, the state is still drier than this time last year.
- Kansas – 45 percent in extreme or worse drought
Drought has finally faded across the eastern half of the state, but it remains firmly gripped in the western half. Wet weather pattern mostly bypass western counties, leaving 24 percent of the state in extreme drought – all located west of Interstate 35. According to The Wichita Eagle, the lack of rainfall over the last one to three years rivals some of the direst periods in record in Kansas, including the Dust Bowl of the 1930s.
- Oklahoma – 26 percent in extreme or worse drought
Like Kansas, Oklahoma’s drought conditions vary wildly throughout the state. Heavy spring storms brought drought-easing rains to the eastern half of the state. The western half, including the Panhandle, is inundated with intense drought.
- Texas – 30 percent in extreme or worse drought
Last week, Gov. Rick Perry extended drought emergency in most of the state, stretching across more than 200 counties. Perry warned that “these drought conditions have reached historic levels and continue to pose an imminent threat to public health, property and the economy.” The memories of the 2011 drought haven’t faded, and the anticipation of another dry summer leaves many considered about water supplies, aquifer levels and wildfire risks. Conditions are driest in the Texas Panhandle, though it is also continuing to spread throughout the state.
California’s drought conditions increased significantly this week, with 93 percent reported in severe drought. This is well above last week’s report of 67 percent. This is the highest level reported in this drought category since 2007.