U.S. Drought Update: Exceptionally Dry Areas Shrink As Rain Brings Relief

Oct 19, 2012

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Drought retreated across many areas of the United States over the last week as storm systems pushed through parched areas, bringing coast-to-coast relief from record-breaking dry conditions.

Roughly 62.39 percent of the contiguous United States was experiencing at least "moderate" drought as of Oct. 16, down from 63.55 percent a week earlier, according to Thursday's Drought Monitor, a weekly compilation of data gathered by federal and academic scientists.

The portion of the United States under "exceptional" drought - the direst classification - fell to 5.84 percent, from 6.18 percent a week earlier.

In the High Plains, which include Kansas, Nebraska and the Dakotas, severe or worse drought levels covered 87.42 percent of the region, down from 87.58 percent the prior week. An estimated 27.44 percent of the region was in the worst level of drought, down from 28.24 percent a week earlier.

In Kansas, a top wheat-growing state where farmers are planting a new crop, drought levels improved dramatically. "Extreme" drought, the second-worst level, shrank to 77.80 percent from 95.70 percent of the state, while the worst level fell to 39.69 percent, from 44.63 percent.

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