From Reuters (Carey Gillam):
Roughly 62.39 percent of the contiguous United States was experiencing at least “moderate” drought as of October 16, down from 63.55 percent a week earlier, according to Thursday’s Drought Monitor, a weekly compilation of data gathered by federal and academic scientists.
The portion of the United States under “exceptional” drought – the direst classification – fell to 5.84 percent, from 6.18 percent a week earlier.
In the High Plains, which include Kansas, Nebraska and the Dakotas, severe or worse drought levels covered 87.42 percent of the region, down from 87.58 percent the prior week. An estimated 27.44 percent of the region was in the worst level of drought, down from 28.24 percent a week earlier.
In Kansas, a top wheat-growing state where farmers are planting a new crop, drought levels improved dramatically. “Extreme” drought, the second-worst level, shrank to 77.80 percent from 95.70 percent of the state, while the worst level fell to 39.69 percent, from 44.63 percent.
In Oklahoma, also key to wheat production, several inches of rain helped reduce extreme drought areas to 66.75 percent of the state, from 80.57 percent.
Hard-hit Nebraska, which suffered its third-driest September on record, saw extreme drought decline to 95.31 percent of the state from 97.94 percent. All other levels held steady, with 77.58 percent of that state still locked in exceptional drought.
South Dakota missed out, as extreme drought expanded to 57.21 percent of the state from 52.65 percent the prior week.
From Reuters (Ayesha Rascoe/Gerald E. McCormick):
The drought that ravaged the United States this year does not appear to be abating and may spread through the winter, government forecasters said on Thursday. “The large majority of that drought we expect to persist,” said Mike Halpert, deputy director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “We even see drought expanding westward … into Montana, Idaho and part of Oregon and Washington.”