Dust storms, wildfires & drought: What happened to April showers?

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Drought MonitorThe Drought Monitor map released on May 1, 2014. April showers may be known to bring May flowers, but for states desperate for rain, the lack of April showers brought nothing but dust storms, wildfires and more drought.

According to the latest Drought Monitor report, about half of the country – primarily to the west of the Mississippi – is still battling against intense drought:

  • Texas & the Southern Plains: Less than 10 percent of the Lone Star State is free from any drought, and with 38 percent of the state in extreme or worse drought, conditions are now the worst in nearly a year. Forecasts are expecting another hot summer, which will likely send reservoirs even lower. The best chances for rainfall will came later this fall or even winter when a developing El Nino pattern could steer more rainfall to the state. Oklahoma is another state battling drought, with 39 percent in extreme or exceptional drought.
  • Kansas and the Corn Belt: Just when Kansans started to get comfortable in believing the drought was over, the weather pattern turned fairly dry.  Just five months ago, 6 percent of the state was in extreme drought. Today, that number has jumped to 25 percent.  The drought combined with high wind earlier in the week to churn out dust storms that created zero-visibility conditions across central parts of the state. Weather service meteorologist Jeff Hutton explains in an Associated Press report that this is “what happens when you get drought, a lack of vegetation and you have wind.” Varying degrees of drought also touch Nebraska, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Missouri
  • California and the West: The worst of the country’s drought remains centered in California, where 96 percent of the state is in severe to exceptional drought. Record heat and the drought kicked off California’s wildfire season. Drought is already pushing water resources to their limits, and according to Business Insider, California is facing what could be an “extremely cruel and dry summer.” The drought has send some ranchers to send their cattle to Texas. Up to 100,000 California cattle have left the Golden State for Texas pastures. The National Weather Service shows portions of California are more than 12 inches below normal precipitation for the year to date.

To see the full Drought Monitor map, click here

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