After the U.S. drought, the deluge?

November 24, 2009

An interesting fact has emerged on the U.S. drought front that will be of interest to readers of this blog.

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, as of last week about 78 percent of the country was “drought free” — the largest percentage since the monitor began tracking such trends over a decade ago.

USA-CROPS/HARVEST

“This is the most drought free that the country has been in the last 10 years,” said Brian Fuchs, a¬†climatologist with the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln.

This state of affairs is partly explained by the emerging El Nino pattern and as always with weather and farming, the blessings have been mixed.

Recent good rains have heralded the end of a scorching drought in Texas which reached historic levels in some parched counties.

But drenching rains in the Midwest grain belt resulted in the slowest harvest in 30 years.

The entire grain belt is essentially shaded in white on the Drought Monitor’s map — which means it has no drought or even unusually dry conditions.

The shades of red that denoted the vast swathe of Texas that was in exceptional and extreme drought conditions has shrunk drastically and most of the state is now shaded white. Most of California remains dry or in drought, though it is not extreme in any part of that state, which is America’s top agricultural producer.

(PICTURE: Farmer Steve Pierce takes a break while harvesting soybeans outside Marengo, Illinois, November 4, 2009. U.S. farmers have struggled this fall with persistent rains that have set the harvest several weeks REUTERS/Julie Ingwersen)

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