Much-needed precipitation in some parts of the country slightly lowered the percentage of the U.S. experiencing some form of drought, but the severe to exceptional drought categories (D2-D4) saw increases. Nearly 39% of the U.S. is now experiencing some form of drought, up from about 33.5% last month.
According to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor, regions with extreme to exceptional (D3-D4) drought rose from 8.61% to 11.71% in one week’s time.
“Intense heat, low humidity, gusty winds and little or no rain allowed for broad-scale drought intensification in most of the central Great Plains and from the High Plains to the Pacific Coast,” the Drought Monitor reported.
The National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said conditions took a dramatic turn across the Rockies and Plains states recently when hot and dry conditions were suddenly replaced by much colder weather and even snow in some areas. However, the colder and wetter weather that developed had little impact on drought conditions in most areas, given the hot, dry and windy conditions that preceded it.
Several inches of precipitation recently fell across interior northeastern Texas, in a swath from eastern Iowa to central Illinois, across Ohio and in parts of Arkansas, which NOAA said brought significant drought relief.
USDA’s “Crop Progress” report this week showed that pasture and rangeland conditions in poor/very poor condition decreased from 46% to 42%. As a result, pasture and rangeland in fair/good condition increased from the prior week.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that approximately 31% of the U.S. cattle herd inventory is within a region experiencing drought, up from 27% on Aug. 4.