Drought worsens in High Plains; winter outlook not good
By Carey Gillam
Nov 29 2012
Drought is tightening its grip on the central United States as winter weather sets in, threatening to ravage the new wheat crop and spelling more hardship for farmers and ranchers already weary of the costly and ongoing dry conditions.
While conditions started to improve earlier in November, they turned harsh to close out the month as above-normal temperatures and below-normal precipitation proved a dire combination in many regions, according to the Drought Monitor, a weekly compilation of data gathered by federal and academic scientists issued Thursday.
Forecasts for the next several days show little to no relief and weather watchers are predicting a drier than average winter for much of the central United States.
“The drought’s impacts are far reaching,” said Eric Luebehusen, a meteorologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, in the report.
The U.S. High Plains, which includes key farm states of Nebraska, South Dakota, and Kansas, are the hardest hit. In that region, almost 58 percent of the land area is in extreme or exceptional drought, the worst categories of drought. A week ago, the tally was 55.94 percent.
Nebraska is by far the most parched state in the nation. One hundred percent of the state is considered in severe or worse drought, with 77.46 percent of the state considered in “exceptional” drought – the worst level, according to the Drought Monitor.