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Latest drought map: Widespread intensification over central U.S.

From the National Drought Mitigation Center at UNL:

The July 24 U.S. Drought Monitor showed widespread intensification of drought through the middle of the country, according to the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The map also set a high mark for the fourth straight week for the area in moderate drought or worse in the 12-year history of the U.S. Drought Monitor.

The July 24 map put 53.44 percent of the United States, including Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico, in moderate drought or worse, up from 53.17 percent the week before; 38.11 percent in severe drought or worse, compared with 35.32 a week earlier; 17.2 percent in extreme drought or worse, compared with 11.32 percent the week before; and 1.99 percent in exceptional drought, up from .83 percent the preceding week.

For just the contiguous United States, the map puts 63.86 percent in moderate drought or worse, up from 63.54 percent a week ago; 45.57 percent in severe drought or worse, up from 42.23 a week ago; 20.57 in extreme drought or worse, up from 13.53 percent a week ago; and 2.38 percent in exceptional drought, up from .99 percent a week ago.

“We’ve seen tremendous intensification of drought through Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Indiana, Arkansas, Kansa and Nebraska, and into part of Wyoming and South Dakota in the last week,” said Brian Fuchs, UNL climatologist and U.S. Drought Monitor author. “The amount of D3 (extreme drought) developing  in the country has increased quite a bit for each of the last several weeks.”

Fuchs also noted that as of the July 24 U.S. Drought Monitor, every state in the country had at least a small area shown as abnormally dry or worse. “It’s such a broad footprint,” he said.

“This drought is two-pronged,” Fuchs said. “Not only the dryness but the heat is playing a big and important role. Even areas that have picked up rain are still suffering because of the heat.”

The forecast for most of the drought-affected area is for drought to continue to develop and intensify. “Conditions are likely to persist,” Fuchs said. “We’ll see further development and intensification into the fall.” Fuchs based his assessment on the Seasonal Drought Outlook released July 19.

The U.S. Drought Monitor map is jointly produced by the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and about 350 drought observers across the country. It is released each Thursday based on data through the previous Tuesday.

Drought Monitor authors synthesize many drought indicators into a single map that identifies areas of the country that are abnormally dry (D0), in moderate drought (D1), in severe drought (D2), extreme drought (D3) and exceptional drought (D4).

Statistics for the percent area in each category of drought are automatically added to the U.S. Drought Monitor website each week for the entire country and Puerto Rico, for the 48 contiguous states, for each climate region, and for individual states.

The National Climatic Data Center maintains drought data based on the Palmer Drought Severity Index, calculated to the beginning of the historic record.

Contact: Brian Fuchs, NDMC at UNL, (402) 472-6775, bfuchs2@unl.edu

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