Spring approaches but drought still holds on

Courtesy of the U.S. Drought Monitor

As we move toward spring, speculation on the drought – and when and if relief will come – is at the forefront of discussion.

Despite recent winter storms, including one that slammed 14 states with more than six inches of snow in the last week, the drought still is stubbornly clinging to about 53 percent of the U.S., according to Discover Magazine’s ImaGeo blog.

In the Midwest, much of the snow that has fallen in the past three months still is stuck above ground because the soil still is frozen and therefore hasn’t been able to provide much needed moisture. However, when the snow does start to melt, it should help low water levels in ponds and other bodies of water recover, the March 5 U.S. Drought Monitor notes.

The drought unfortunately increased in Texas, as February was drier than January. However, in the Oklahoma panhandle, precipitation has stayed above normal for the past couple months, reducing drought conditions slightly, according to the monitor.

In February, weather officials reported parts of the Midwest and Southern Plains have benefited from above-normal precipitation, while states such as Missouri were still far from normal levels, according to Farm World.

The reality is stark – as of Feb. 27, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) had designated 751 counties as primary drought counties and another 268 as contiguous counties.

Still, despite the drought, USDA economists have predicted a record corn harvest of 14 billion bushels, almost 40 percent more than last year. The predication hangs on the assumption of good weather, according to NPR’s The Salt.

For Neogen blog’s coverage of the drought, click here.

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