Excessive heat over much of the country isn’t helping with drought conditions as they slink slowly back to the east. Farther to the west, however, drought and heat are leaving water reservoir supplies low, the land parched and farmers frustrated.
The weekly Drought Monitor report showed just how deep drought persists in some states. In New Mexico – the driest state in the country – 91 percent is in exceptional drought.
The worst of the drought, shown in bright red and maroon on the Drought Monitor map, now dominates from New Mexico to the Texas Panhandle up through western Nebraska and the southeastern corner of Colorado.
The drought also stretches to California, where the USDA recently designated five counties as primary natural disaster areas due to damages and losses caused by the drought. Over the last 60 days, nearly two-thirds of the Golden State has seen less than 5 percent of its normal rainfall.
According to the Fresno (Calif.) Bee, two key reservoirs where farmers get much of their water are down to 20 and 30 percent of their capacity. Read more here.
The central and eastern Corn Belt has mainly been spared the wrath of this year’s drought, but that may soon change. The Daily Livestock Report showed that over the last 7 days, the entire Corn Belt west of Ohio has seen very little rainfall.
“We observed crop conditions in eastern Iowa, Illinois and western and southern Indiana last week. Most corn south of Indianapolis was tasseling and some fields were completely tasseled as of Saturday. Fields in Illinois and Iowa will be following suit soon and rainfall of less than 10 or 20 percent of normal does not bode well for pollination,” the report said.
It’s unclear how far to the east drought could spread, but in its Monthly Drought Outlook, the National Weather Service expects improvement for New Mexico and Colorado through the end of July. It also expects the drought to stay confined to areas west of the Missouri River.
However, not all experts agree. Harris-Mann Climatology forecast an entirely different scenario with their summer outlook, expecting drought to move and expand over the central and southern Great Plains and western Midwest by late June or July. See, “Drought damage could top $200 billion.”