More than one-third of country facing drought : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Posted on Wed, Jul. 17, 2002

More than one-third of country facing drought

WASHINGTON (AP) - More than one-third of the contiguous states face severe to extreme drought, the government said Wednesday.

Warmer than usual temperature and dry conditions spread drought to 36 percent of the 48 contiguous states by the end of June, the National Climatic Data Center reported.

The center said the average temperature for the country in June was 71.6 degrees Fahrenheit, 2.3 degrees higher than the average in records going back to 1895. That made it the fifth warmest June on record.

The climate center, a part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said abnormally warm temperatures occurred in the Southwest and northern Plains.

Colorado and Nebraska had their second-warmest June since statewide records began, while New Mexico and Nevada had their fifth-warmest June.

Near-average temperatures covered much of the South and Northeast. Maine and New Hampshire had significantly cooler than average temperatures for the month.

Fourteen states from the West Coast to the mid-Atlantic had below average rainfall and four states -- Arizona, Utah, Wyoming and Nebraska -- were much drier than average.

In the East, drought conditions were most severe in an area stretching from central Virginia to central Georgia. The past 12 months were the driest July through June on record for North Carolina and South Carolina, and drought has affected parts of the region for much of the past four years.

The total precipitation deficit since July 1998 exceeded 55 inches in Greenville and 65 inches in Columbia, S.C., at the end of June.

Severe to extreme drought also continued throughout large parts of the western United States from Arizona and New Mexico to Montana, significantly affecting farming and the frequency of wildfires.

The Department of Agriculture said more than 80 percent of range and pastures were classified as poor to very poor in New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado in early July, with conditions worsening during June and early July in California, Wyoming, Nebraska, and the Dakotas.

Worldwide, the average temperature for combined land and ocean surfaces during June was 0.9 degree Fahrenheit above the 1880-2001 long-term mean, the second warmest June since 1880. The warmest June, globally, occurred four years ago.

-- Martin (, July 18, 2002

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