Hoping for a Hurricane: July Breaks Record for 'Exceptional' Drought

By Brian Resnick
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The widespread drought in the Southern United States has now reached an unprecedented level. According to the U.S. drought monitor, this past July broke the record for the most "exceptional drought" in any given month. Exceptional drought, the monitor's most-severe classification, is a true water emergency marked by widespread crop failure and low reservoir levels. Currently, 18 percent of the continental U.S. is experiencing extreme or exceptional conditions.
 
The findings of the Drought Monitor are summarized in this release:

Nearly 12 percent of the contiguous United States fell into the "exceptional" classification during the month, peaking at 11.96 percent on July 12. That level of exceptional drought had never before been seen in the monitor's 12-year history, said Brian Fuchs, UNL assistant geoscientist and climatologist at the NDMC...

Texas has been hit the hardest--the entire state is in drought, 75 percent of which is considered exceptional. However, other states also are experiencing water emergencies.

Other States that are at least 85 percent abnormally dry or in drought according to the report include:
  • New Mexico (100 percent in drought, 48 percent exceptional)
  • Louisiana (100 percent abnormally dry or in drought, 33 percent exceptional)
  • Oklahoma (100 percent abnormally dry or in drought, 52 percent exceptional)
  • South Carolina (97 percent abnormally dry or in drought, 16 percent extreme to exceptional)
  • Georgia (95 percent abnormally dry or in drought, 68 percent extreme to exceptional)
  • Arkansas (96 percent abnormally dry or in drought, 6 percent extreme to exceptional)
  • Florida (89 percent abnormally dry or in drought, 20 percent extreme to exceptional)

The situation is so extreme, a strong tropical-storm season could actually prove beneficial (in terms of replenishing the water-starved land):

"Whenever there is a lot of moisture in a short period of time, the potential exists for rapid improvement," Fuchs said. "But while that possibility exists, it won't necessarily mean the end of drought in those areas. It will likely only improve by one drought category for those areas not impacted by any tropical storms or where drought related impacts improve."

Read the whole story at Eurekalert

Image: Reuters


This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/08/hoping-for-a-hurricane-july-breaks-record-for-exceptional-drought/242950/