Drought’s grasp tightens in the heartland

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For yet another week, the oppressive drought that has gripped the nation’s midsection continues to reign. Sixty-two percent of the continuous United States is in moderate or worse drought according to latest Drought Monitor report released on Thursday morning.

No drought improvement was noted in many places, especially the states with the highest drought percentages:





  • This week: 78 percent in extreme to exceptional drought
  • 7-day rainfall total: 0.01 inch in south-central Kansas to 1.0 inch along the Nebraska border





  • This week: 96 percent in extreme to exceptional drought
  • 7-day rainfall total: 0.01 inch in along the Wyoming and South Dakota borders  to 1.0 inch in eastern Nebraska




South Dakota

  • This week: 63 percent in extreme to exceptional drought
  • 7-day rainfall total: 0.01 inch in central and western South Dakota to 1.0 inch along the Nebraska and Iowa borders





  • This week: 78 percent in extreme to exceptional drought
  • 7-day rainfall total: 0.01 inch in south-central Kansas to 1.0 inch along the Nebraska border

See how your state is doing here.

Extreme or worse drought now impacts 17 states across the Lower 48 as it expands to states spared in recent weeks from the wrath of the intense dryness. Drought in Texas is quickly growing – 64 percent is in moderate to exceptional drought – and the drought-driven conditions led a violent wind storm on Wednesday that caused a massive dust storm.  According to an ABC News report, the dust storm created “black-out” conditions and caused a 23-vehicle pile-up in western Texas, killing 1 person and injuring another 17. Read more about it here.   

Meanwhile, a snowstorm trekked across the central Plains, affecting Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, Iowa, Missouri, and Minnesota before hitting the Great Lakes region. Though the snow is welcomed by many, it will barely make a dent in the precipitation deficit felt in the region. Another wet system is possible next week, but it will undoubtedly fail to bring the drought-busting moisture necessary.

An updated Seasonal Drought Outlook was released on Dec. 20. Forecasters expect persistence drought to continue from North Dakota to Texas and from Missouri to Nevada through the end of March. The report did have some good news – some drought improvement was noted in the Southeast and the central Corn Belt, including Iowa and eastern Missouri.

Some producers may already be nervous about next year’s growing season. However, the University of Illinois urged them to instead that “corn and soybean yields are overwhelmingly determined by summer weather conditions, with July weather being the most important.” Read, “Do recent precipitation deficits tell us about next summer?”  

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