U.S. drought appears to be spreading, experts say | TSLN.com

U.S. drought appears to be spreading, experts say

The drought across the South and Southwest that’s already cost the U.S. a reported $10 billion appears to be expanding its reach, officials said recently. The dry conditions have spread now into parts of the Southeast and Midwest, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, a federal Web site that tracks drought across the country.

More than 33 percent of the U.S. (excluding Alaska and Hawaii) is now in a drought, the nation’s highest percentage in almost four years. “This is the most drought for the contiguous U.S. since Jan. 22, 2008,” reported Brian Fuchs, a climatologist at the National Drought Mitigation Center in Lincoln, NE. He said drought now extends all the way from western Arizona to central North Carolina, a distance of more than 2,000 miles. From north to south in the central U.S., the drought reaches from southern Minnesota to south Texas.

While Fuchs said some slight improvement has occurred the past few weeks in Texas and Oklahoma due to recent rainfall, little relief is in sight for the winter.

“In a broad area across the Southeast and along the southern tier of states, drought is forecast to persist and expand” over the next three months, the Climate Prediction Center announced recently. The expected southern dryness is due mainly to the La Niña climate pattern, a periodic cooling of central Pacific Ocean water. During La Niña winters, the jet streams tend to push storms over the northern U.S. and away from the South.

The climate center reported Nov. 10 that “a majority of the models now predict La Niña to continue through the Northern Hemisphere winter.”

The drought across the South and Southwest that’s already cost the U.S. a reported $10 billion appears to be expanding its reach, officials said recently. The dry conditions have spread now into parts of the Southeast and Midwest, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, a federal Web site that tracks drought across the country.

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More than 33 percent of the U.S. (excluding Alaska and Hawaii) is now in a drought, the nation’s highest percentage in almost four years. “This is the most drought for the contiguous U.S. since Jan. 22, 2008,” reported Brian Fuchs, a climatologist at the National Drought Mitigation Center in Lincoln, NE. He said drought now extends all the way from western Arizona to central North Carolina, a distance of more than 2,000 miles. From north to south in the central U.S., the drought reaches from southern Minnesota to south Texas.

While Fuchs said some slight improvement has occurred the past few weeks in Texas and Oklahoma due to recent rainfall, little relief is in sight for the winter.

“In a broad area across the Southeast and along the southern tier of states, drought is forecast to persist and expand” over the next three months, the Climate Prediction Center announced recently. The expected southern dryness is due mainly to the La Niña climate pattern, a periodic cooling of central Pacific Ocean water. During La Niña winters, the jet streams tend to push storms over the northern U.S. and away from the South.

The climate center reported Nov. 10 that “a majority of the models now predict La Niña to continue through the Northern Hemisphere winter.”

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