April 13, USA Today – (National) Drought expands throughout USA.
The United States has not been as dry as it is now in almost 5 years, USA Today reported April 12. Still reeling from devastating drought in 2011 that led to at least $10 billion in agricultural losses across Texas and the South, the nation is enduring another unusually parched year. A mostly dry, mild winter put nearly 61 percent of the lower 48 states in “abnormally dry” or drought conditions, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, a weekly federal tracking of drought. That is the highest percentage of dry or drought conditions since September 2007. Only two states — Ohio and Alaska — are entirely free of abnormally dry or drought conditions. The drought is expanding into some areas where dryness is rare. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, stream levels are at near-record or record lows in much of New England. The Drought Monitor lists all of Vermont as “abnormally dry,” just 6 months after the state’s wettest August on record that stemmed mainly from disastrous flooding by the remnants of Hurricane Irene. The rest of the East is also very dry. More than 63 percent of Georgia is in the worst two levels of drought, the highest percentage of any state. Wildfires and brush fires have been common along the East Coast from New England to Florida in recent weeks. Trouble also looms for water-dependent California. The state department of water resources announced the week of April 2 that water content in California’s mountain snowpack is 45 percent below normal.