Drought fades as wet weather dominates

by Laura Lloyd
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KANSAS CITY — It is official: From late spring through the first month of summer, 2013, the United States is expected to be drought-free as far west as eastern Oklahoma and to experience improving conditions in much of the High Plains, according to the U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook for May 2 to July 31, 2013, released May 7 in the Weekly Weather and Crop Bulletin from the National Weather Service and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

While the map of the United States from the U.S. Drought Monitor last summer was notable for its widespread extreme and exceptional drought during the driest summer in more than 50 years, the end-of-April 2013 map shows the worst drought persisting in a much more limited area from Nebraska through western Kansas, most of New Mexico and patches of Texas. And big chunks of those dry areas were expected to show some improvement, according to the U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook.

The northwest, much of the Corn Belt, the southeast and much of New England are forecast as being without any level of drought through July 31, 2013.

The weather maps in the Weekly Weather and Crop Bulletin instead describe a wet, cold spring that has held up field work and crop planting to rates well below the five-year averages.

While corn planting delays have shaken the futures markets recently, other crops also are experiencing a slower-than-normal pace of planting and progress. Among those lagging previous crop years are hard red winter wheat, oats, rice, soybeans, barley and peanuts crops. All are behind in their development because of abnormally cool temperatures and, in many cases, excessive precipitation.

In the period of April 29-May 5, “unseasonably cool weather, coupled with heavy precipitation, limited fieldwork and crop development,” the U.S.D.A. said. “Most notably, portions of the Midwest accumulated late-season snow, while others received drenching rain. Isolated locations in Alabama, Mississippi and Florida received rainfall in excess of seven inches during the week. Conversely, much of the West remained dry,” the U.S.D.A. noted.
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