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Drought Intensifies Throughout USA

Posted by feww on April 13, 2012

More than 60% of the lower 48 states and Hawaii in “abnormally dry” or drought conditions

Wildfires as far north as upstate New York and multiple outbreaks of brushfires along the Atlantic Coast from New England to Florida are occurring due to unusually dry weather and winds.

List of states that are in 100% “abnormally dry” or drought conditions

  • Arizona
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • District of Columbia
  • Florida
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Vermont

More than 99.96% of Florida  is currently in drought, with nearly a third of the state experiencing the worst two categories of drought, Extreme (D3), and Exceptional (D4).

List of states that are in more than 94% “abnormally dry” or drought conditions

  • California (95.11%)
  • Colorado (94.83%)
  • Georgia (95.48%)
  • Maryland (98.05%)
  • Minnesota (99.88%)
  • Nevada (99.87%)
  • Utah (99.01%)

More than 84% of Georgia is currently in drought, with nearly two-thirds of the state experiencing D3 and D4 drought levels.

The following excerpts are from the U.S. Drought Monitor (Report released on April 12, 2012)

  • The Northeast and Mid-Atlantic
    • The U.S. Drought Monitor report:  During the past 60-days, 25 to 50 percent of normal precipitation has fallen from northern Virginia northward into coastal Maine, with deficits between 4 and 8 inches. Similar percentages and deficiencies also existed at 90-days in the same areas. Since the start of the year, deficits have included: 7.63 inches at Islip, NY; 7.39 inches at Providence, RI; 7.18 inches at Boston, MA; 5.71 inches at Salisbury, MD; and 4.90 inches at Hartford, CT.  The early green-up of trees and vegetation was slowed by the colder air, but yet many plants have begun to grow, taking moisture out of the soils. According to the USGS, stream flow levels were at near- or record lows for April 10 at 1-, 7-, 14-, and 28-day averages in much of New England and the mid-Atlantic. Additionally, there have been several outbreaks of brushfires and some large wild fires, even as far north as upstate New York.
  • Southeast:
    • Augusta, Georgia.  The driest rolling 365-day period ending on April 4 beat the former record by 5 inches, while this 365-day period was the 4th driest such period ever (since 1872).
    • Florida. In Florida, the continued lack of rain produced additional deterioration across the state. The first 100 days at Jacksonville, FL, have been the driest since 1921, and only 30 percent of normal.
    • Lake Okeechobee was below 12 feet this morning (11.97 feet, or 2.1 feet below normal), and now falling at 0.2 to 0.3 feet per week. Numerous wild fires have occurred throughout the state as the fire index is now over 700 in south-central Florida.
  • Midwest.
    • Little or no precipitation fell over the drought areas of the upper Midwest and adjacent northern Plains. Although temperature anomalies decreased from previous weeks, readings still averaged 6 to 12 ºF above normal.
    • According to the USDA, percent topsoil and subsoil moisture rated very short or short was: Illinois (46/47), Minnesota (60/68), and Iowa (78/85).
    • Canton Lake in Fulton County, IL, was 5 feet below full pool.
  • The Plains:
    • A scattering of moderate (0.5 to 1.5 inches) to heavy (1.5 to 4 inches) rains fell on parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, eastern Colorado, and southern Nebraska, but from central Nebraska into the Dakotas, little or no rain was measured.
    • In the northern Plains, however, another dry and mild week further depleted soil moisture as accumulated short-term deficiencies slowly increased. Based upon the 60-, 90-, and 120-day anomalies, D0 expanded in central South Dakota while D1 spread into north-central and southwestern South Dakota and western Nebraska.
  • The West:
    • Light to moderate precipitation (0.5 to 2 inches) was confined from northern California and the northern Sierra Nevada northward into the Pacific Northwest and northern Rockies. Little or no precipitation fell on central and southern California, the Great Basin, and the Southwest. Temperatures averaged below normal in western areas, slightly above normal in far eastern sections.
  • Hawaii:
    • In Hawaii, some windward locations on Maui and the Big Island received 2 to 4 inches of rain, but much less fell on leeward sides. Fortunately, most of the islands (except the Big Island) received surplus March rainfall, easing any further deterioration there. On the Big Island, however, many northern and leeward locations have reported less than 25 percent of normal rainfall since January 1. Kona coffee growers indicated that leaves are starting to shrivel on their trees and berries are starting to fall.
    • Author: David Miskus, Climate Prediction Center/NCEP/NWS/NOAA

Recent Global Drought Links

Global Disasters: Links, Forecasts and Background

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