US sets drought monitor's 'exceptional drought' record in July

August 01, 2011

The percent of contiguous U.S. land area experiencing exceptional drought in July reached the highest levels in the history of the U.S. Drought Monitor, an official at the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln said.

Nearly 12 percent of the contiguous United States fell into the "exceptional" classification during the month, peaking at 11.96 percent on July 12. That level of exceptional drought had never before been seen in the monitor's 12-year history, said Brian Fuchs, UNL assistant geoscientist and climatologist at the NDMC.

The monitor uses a ranking system that begins at D0 (abnormal dryness) and moves through D1 (moderate drought), D2 (severe drought), D3 (extreme drought) and D4 (exceptional drought).

Exceptional drought's impacts include widespread crop and pasture losses, as well as shortages of water in reservoirs, streams and wells, creating water emergencies.

Currently, 18 percent of the country is classified as under either extreme or exceptional drought, Fuchs said. Much of it is in the south, particularly Texas, where the entire state is experiencing drought -- three-fourths considered exceptional.

The most recent drought monitor report, released late last week, indicated that 59 percent of the United States was drought-free, while 41 percent faced some form of abnormal dryness or drought. Two weeks ago, 64 percent of the country was drought-free.

Other states that are at least 85 percent abnormally dry or in drought according to the report include: In the next two to three weeks, some affected areas may see some improvement. The wake of Tropical Storm Don should result in rainfall in the central and western Gulf Coast states, but the degree of drought relief will depend upon the storm's intensity, as well as its track and speed.

"Whenever there is a lot of moisture in a short period of time, the potential exists for rapid improvement," Fuchs said. "But while that possibility exists, it won't necessarily mean the end of drought in those areas. It will likely only improve by one drought category for those areas not impacted by any tropical storms or where drought related impacts improve."

The drought monitor combines numeric measures of drought and experts' best judgment into a weekly map. It is produced by the NDMC, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and incorporates review from 300 climatologists, extension agents and others across the nation.

Each week the previous map is revised based on rain, snow and other events, observers' reports of how drought is affecting crops, wildlife and other indicators.
-end-
To examine current and archived national, regional and state-by-state drought maps and conditions, go to http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu.

University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Related Drought Articles from Brightsurf:

Redefining drought in the US corn belt
As the climate trends warmer and drier, global food security increasingly hinges on crops' ability to withstand drought.

The cost of drought in Italy
Drought-induced economic losses ranged in Italy between 0.55 and 1.75 billion euros over the period 2001-2016, and droughts caused significant collateral effects not only on the agricultural sector, but also on food manufacturing industries.

Consequences of the 2018 summer drought
The drought that hit central and northern Europe in summer 2018 had serious effects on crops, forests and grasslands.

Songbirds reduce reproduction to help survive drought
New research from the University of Montana suggests tropical songbirds in both the Old and New Worlds reduce reproduction during severe droughts, and this - somewhat surprisingly -- may actually increase their survival rates.

Predicting drought in the American West just got more difficult
A new, USC-led study of more than 1,000 years of North American droughts and global conditions found that forecasting a lack of precipitation is rarely straightforward.

Where is the water during a drought?
In low precipitation periods - where and how is the limited available water distributed and what possibilities are there for improving retention in the soil and the landscape?

What does drought mean for endangered California salmon?
Droughts threatens California's endangered salmon population -- but pools that serve as drought refuges could make the difference between life and death for these vulnerable fish.

With shrinking snowpack, drought predictability melting away
New research from CU Boulder suggests that during the 21st century, our ability to predict drought using snow will literally melt away.

An evapotranspiration deficit drought index to detect drought impacts on ecosystems
The difference between actual and potential evapotranspiration, technically termed a standardized evapotranspiration deficit drought index (SEDI), can more sensitively capture the biological changes of ecosystems in response to the dynamics of drought intensity, compared with indices based on precipitation and temperature.

Sesame yields stable in drought conditions
Research shows adding sesame to cotton-sorghum crop rotations is possible in west Texas

Read More: Drought News and Drought Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.