Three more years of drought for the Corn Belt? Maybe
The drought won’t be going anywhere any time soon, and with the latest Drought Monitor showing no improvement in drought conditions, the nation has quickly entered its 32nd consecutive week with at least half of the Lower 48 in moderate to exceptional drought.
This week, 58 percent of the continental United States is in moderate or worse drought.
The same group of states continues to report the highest percentages of drought: Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, Oklahoma and Texas. Georgia also is reporting an overwhelming percentage of exceptional drought.
For Nebraska in particular, January has offered no relief. For the month of January, the majority of the Cornhusker State saw less than one-quarter of an inch of rain. Seventy-seven percent of the state is in still exceptional drought, which continues to remain virtually unchanged since the end of August.
Drought has also expanded to other reaches of the country, including Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico with pockets in Utah, Nevada and Arizona. To the east, drought has seeped into Iowa and Minnesota. See how your state is doing here.
With so little moisture offering relief for most states, some experts are urging producers in select Corn Belt states to prepare for the drought to overstay its welcome even more.
Cathann Kress, Iowa State University’s vice president for Extension & Outreach, told KMALand that Iowa in particular won’t be able to emerge from the drought for three more years if the dry conditions continue as expected.
Brian Fuchs, climatologist with the National Drought Mitigation Center, School of Natural Resources, University of Nebraska, is more hopeful than Kress.
“With the weather, I think everyone is smart enough to know that nothing is ever set in stone, as we saw a 100-year flood on the Missouri Basin followed by a historical drought. We have seen both ends of the spectrum,” Fuchs said.