Friday, September 14, 2012

Drought expands slightly; weather patterns indicate little or no relief should be expected in early 2013

The worst drought in more than 50 years has expanded slightly for the third consecutive week, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Exceptional drought, the most severe category, now covers 6.2 percent of the U.S., up from 6.1 percent last week. All levels of drought increased to 64.2 percent from 63.4, the highest percentage this year.
There were "minor improvements" in the Midwest, Northeast, mid-Atlantic, Arizona and the Great Basin, Brian Sullivan of Bloomberg reports. Drought has caused corn and soybean prices to rise as the size of harvests shrunk, creating hardship for livestock and dairy producers who could no longer afford feed. It has also caused Mississippi River levels to drop in some places, making river travel difficult to impossible. (Read more)

Relief from drought conditions may be years away. Iowa State University extension climatologist Elwynn Taylor said the La Nina weather pattern causing the drought will likely stick around through early 2013. An El Nino pattern that would bring enough rain to quench U.S. soil isn't anywhere on the horizon, Jeff Caldwell of reports. "If weather patterns respond to a neutral or to an early 2013 development of La Nina," Taylor said, "it will be likely that the U.S. corn yield will fall below the 30-year trend line for a fourth consecutive year." (Read more)

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