Pockets of drought linger in the Midwest

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In the latest “Drought Monitor” report, drought conditions across the Corn Belt stayed steady this week. Nearly one-fourth of the Midwest and 22 percent of the High Plains are in moderate or worse drought – unchanged from last week’s report.

click image to zoomDrought MonitorThe Drought Monitor map released on Oct. 31, 2013. Overall, 37 million acres of corn – or 38 percent of the crop – were growing in drought as of Oct. 29. This is down considerably from the 53.6 million acres reported in mid-September. Read more here.

Brad Rippey, meteorologist in the USDA’s Office of the Chief Economist, adds, “Thus, the 2013 growing season effectively has ended with 38 percent of the U.S. corn production area and 28 percent of the soybean area in drought, down from late-summer peaks of 55 and 45 percent, respectively. Still, there are pockets of lingering drought in the Midwest.  On October 27, USDA/NASS rated topsoil moisture more than half very short to short in Illinois (60 percent), Missouri (58 percent), and Iowa (53 percent).”

However, rains soaked many states across the area with days of rain, with parts of Iowa, Illinois, Missouri and Kansas reporting between 1.5 and 4 inches of rainfall. Next week’s “Drought Monitor” report will likely show more drought improvement for these are areas.

The rain also drenched Oklahoma and Texas, causing dangerous flash flooding.

However, in Texas, the dangerous conditions may also be a blessing and help push central Texas out of the drought for the first time since 2011. This deluge comes just weeks after Austin, Texas, water officials declared the drought as the worst central Texas had experienced, even eclipsing the epic drought of the 1950s.

The drought also spreading across the Northeast, where abnormal dryness – the first stage of drought reported by the Drought Monitor – emerged in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut and Rhode Island. It has even progressed to moderate drought in the eastern half of Massachusetts.  

Read the full report here.

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