Midwest, Plains still parched

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The drought that has plagued the nation’s heartland for nearly six months refuses to ease. In its weekly update, the Drought Monitor reports that 62 percent of the lower 48 states are in moderate or worse drought. While it’s improved slightly from last week, the current weather pattern is making it clear that the drought is here to stay.

Most of the nation’s driest areas are in the central and northern Plains, including Kansas, Nebraska and South Dakota. Conditions in all three states are virtually unchanged from last week:

State

D3*-D4**

D4

Kansas

77.80

39.68

Nebraska

95.31

77.58

South Dakota

56.66

32.57

*D3 Drought – Extreme
*D4 Drought - Exceptional


Conditions are so dry that late last week gusty winds and blowing dust reduced visibility to near zero in all of these states, creating hazardous driving conditions and forcing officials to temporarily shut down major interstates and highways. Click here to view the dust bowl-like winds in western Nebraska on Oct. 18.

Other agricultural states, primarily in the Midwest region, are faring far better. Just three months ago, Missouri reported some of the driest conditions in the country. Now, just 14 percent remain in critical drought conditions. Indiana was in a similar situation. On July 24, 100 percent of the state was in moderate or worse drought. Today that percentage is just 7.

See how your state is doing here.

The National Weather Service doesn’t expect conditions to improve through the end of January. With El Niño’s return looking increasingly unlikely, drought could persist for a wide swatch of the country. Read more.


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