Drought Spreading

USDA Meteorologist Eric Lubebehusen says the intensity and coverage of the drought has increased as a result of more dry weather. Some level of drought now covers 62.7-percent of the contiguous 48 U.S. states. That's double the extent of a year ago - when the drought was centered on Oklahoma and Texas. It has spread across most of the Midwest since the spring and has caused major economic damage. And since the drought just isn't loosening its grip - Mark Svoboda at the National Drought Mitigation Center said this week it's hard to put it in historical perspective.

Svoboda says the next few months will be critical in determining if the ag industry faces another harsh growing season. He says snow in the Rocky Mountains and across the Midwest would ease conditions heading into the spring. This is actually a time of year - according to Svoboda - where nature can catch its breath. He says there isn't a great demand for water by plants - so moisture can be stored in the ground and in snow pack. He says the current situation isn't favorable. In fact - because of a lack of rain in September, October and November - Svoboda says the winter wheat crop is getting hammered. But he says there is time to make up for the lack of moisture. But if we are still this dry at the end of January - he says there will be a lot more concern.

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