Drought persists, expands in West

Nearly half of contiguous U.S. currently experiencing some form of drought.

Krissa Welshans, Livestock Editor

November 25, 2020

2 Min Read
nov 17 drought map.jpg

Drought continues to tighten its grip, with nearly half of the contiguous U.S. currently experiencing some form of drought, according to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor. As of Nov. 17, the data showed that 47.3% of the U.S. is in drought, up from 46.8% on Oct. 13. Nearly 64.3% of the U.S. is experiencing some form of dryness or drought. Nearly 19% of the U.S. is in extreme to exceptional drought, up from nearly 17% on Oct. 13. The majority of the dryness remains in the western part of the country.

According to the Drought Monitor, dryness and drought expanded and intensified significantly across Texas and adjacent parts of Oklahoma and Arkansas. Since mid-September, precipitation totals were 4-8 in. locally below normal across central and northeastern Texas, southern Oklahoma and adjacent Arkansas. During the last half of the year, most of western Texas outside the Panhandle has received only 15-35% of normal precipitation, the report noted.

Farther west, exceptional drought now extends across large sections of New Mexico, Arizona and Utah as conditions intensified along the middle tier of the Four Corners states, the Drought Monitor relayed. In fact, in some areas, the report pointed out that moisture budget shortages date back to the weak monsoon season of 2018.

Meanwhile, most of Nevada, Utah and New Mexico had precipitation totals that were among the driest 5% on record at many locations.

“Surrounding these areas, a large area of extreme drought extended from New Mexico and Colorado eastward through most of Arizona and Nevada, and D3 also stretched from northern California northward through a large part of Oregon into southern Washington. This despite patches of improvement from moderate to heavy precipitation in parts of the Pacific Northwest and northern sections of the Intermountain West and Rockies,” the Drought Monitor reported.

On Nov. 17, approximately 45% of the U.S. cattle industry was experiencing drought, up from 40% on Nov. 17. Approximately 36% of U.S. hay acreage was experiencing drought on Nov.17, up from 33% on Oct. 13, and approximately 49% of the nation's alfalfa hay acreage was experiencing drought, an improvement from 51% on Oct. 13.

About the Author(s)

Krissa Welshans

Livestock Editor

Krissa Welshans grew up on a crop farm and cow-calf operation in Marlette, Michigan. Welshans earned a bachelor’s degree in animal science from Michigan State University and master’s degree in public policy from New England College. She and her husband Brock run a show cattle operation in Henrietta, Texas, where they reside with their son, Wynn.

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