U.S. drought expands, concerns mount about wheat and rivers

Saturday, December 8, 2012
By Paul Martin

* Drought expands in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas
* Winter wheat crop devastated
* Warm weather worsens drought impact

By Carey Gillam
Reuters.com
Thu Dec 6, 2012

Drought continued to expand through the
central United States even as winter weather sets in, wreaking
havoc on the nation’s new wheat crop and on movement of key
commodities as major shipping waterways grow shallow.

Unseasonably warm conditions have exacerbated the harm
caused by the lack of needed rainfall. The average temperature
for the contiguous United States last month was 44.1 degrees
Fahrenheit, 2.1 degrees above the 20th century average, and
tying 2004 as the 20th warmest November on record, according to
the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The year-to-date marks the warmest first 11 months of any
year on record for the contiguous United States, and for the
entire year, 2012 will most likely surpass the current record as
the warmest year for the nation, NOAA said.

The warm weather accelerates evaporation of any
precipitation that does fall, and keeps plants – like the new
wheat crop – trying to grow, rather than slipping into normal
winter dormancy.

“We have not seen hardly any rain or snow around the Plains
states. It is still very dry. And with these temperatures when
you are having 60- or 70 degrees and high winds… it’s going to
be problematic,” said Brian Fuchs, climatologist with the
National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of
Nebraska-Lincoln.

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