Georgia is free of exceptional drought for the first time since January 2012 after heavy rains brought relief, and drought declined in many areas of the country in the week that ended Feb. 12, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.
In addition to improvements in Georgia, drought eased in Alabama, North Carolina, eastern Oklahoma, eastern Kansas, eastern Texas, the Dakotas, Minnesota, southwest Missouri, and several western states. Drought intensified in a small area of southern Florida and in parts of southern Texas, the Texas Panhandle and California.
Brad Rippey, U.S. Department of Agriculture meteorologist, observed that:
- Drought coverage decreased to 55.73 percent of the contiguous U.S., down 1.11 percent from last week and down 5.36 percent since the beginning of the year. The decrease came on the strength of heavy rain across the South and some snow in the upper Midwest. Rippey added that snow on the southern Plains and rain across Florida’s peninsula occurred after the end of the drought-monitoring period and will be reflected next week.
- The portion of the contiguous U.S. in the worst category – D4, or exceptional drought – dipped nearly one-quarter of a percentage point, 0.24 percent, to 6.61 percent. D4 coverage has ranged from 5 to 7 percent for 27 consecutive weeks, from Aug. 14, 2012, to Feb. 12, 2013.
- The proportion of hay in drought, 57 percent, fell two percentage points, while winter wheat in drought was unchanged at 59 percent. Cattle in drought, 67 percent, fell one percentage point. For the 32nd consecutive week, from July 10, 2012, through Feb. 12, 2013, drought encompassed more than two-thirds of the domestic cattle inventory.
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).
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 morning.
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. U.S. Drought Monitor data online goes back to January 2000. http://drought.unl.edu/MonitoringTools/USDroughtMonitor/DroughtMonitorTips.aspx
U.S. Drought Monitor map, statistics and narrative summary: http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu
National Climatic Data Center’s State of the Climate Drought Summary:
Seasonal Drought Outlook:
-- Kelly Helm Smith, National Drought Mitigation Center