Climatologists at the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln say drought will recovery will take time and in some areas of the country seems to be feeding on itself. It notes Nebraska has been at the epicenter of the drought since September, and drought impacts will only intensify if it lasts through the winter.
The center's director, Michael Hayes, says Nebraska, Colorado and Wyoming are on track to record their driest year on record in 2012, and the country is having its hottest year on record. Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico are in their second year of drought, while the eastern edge of the Corn Belt is seeing some relief. In the lower 48 states more than 60% of the land area is experiencing moderate to exceptional drought.
The National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center reports that the drought in the Plains is likely to continue at least through February. "Right now the expectations are for increased odds of above-normal temperatures across quite a bit of the nation," Hayes said. The prediction for winter moisture is less clear, Hayes said, with a potential for Nebraska seeing both dry and wet weather this winter.
"In Nebraska and the Central Plains, we’ve started seeing the drought feeding off itself, with the dry soils and dry air not allowing precipitation events to develop as usual," said Brian Fuchs, climatologist at the National Drought Mitigation Center. "With the lack of moisture, we’re more like a desert environment. It warms up fairly quickly during the day, but drops quickly at night."
Click here for additional details from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's CropWatch.