December 20, 2012 / 5:26 PM / 5 years ago

U.S. drought has tight hold, snow not seen as big help

3 Min Read

By Carey Gillam
    Dec 20 (Reuters) - A snow storm moving through the Plains
states into the U.S. Midwest brought much-needed moisture to
drought-hit states, but drought has such a tight grip on the
central U.S. that more moisture will be needed, according to
weather experts.
    "The snow is good, but in most instances it was less than
one inch of liquid and if the soils are frozen, there will be
little infiltration," said Brian Fuchs, climatologist with the
National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of
Nebraska-Lincoln. "Welcomed, yes. A big changer to the overall
drought, not really," Fuchs said.
    A report issued Thursday by a consortium of federal and
state climatology experts said that as of December 18, large
swaths of the nation's midsection remained blanketed in extreme
and exceptional levels of drought, the worst levels on the
measurement scale.
    Before the snow storm hit late Wednesday, nearly 27 percent
of the High Plains, was considered in the very worst level of
drought, exceptional drought. Indeed, "severe," and "extreme"
levels of drought also crept higher over the last week,
according to the Drought Monitor report. 
    Severe drought was spread over 86.20 percent of the High
Plains, up from 86.12 percent the week before, while extreme
drought area was pegged at 59.98 percent of the region, up from
58.39 percent. Exceptional drought was pegged at 26.99 percent,
up from 26.91 percent.
   Drought conditions were most pervasive in Nebraska, according
to the Drought Monitor report.               
    Overall, roughly 61.79 percent of the contiguous United
States was in at least "moderate" drought, a slight improvement
from 61.87 percent a week earlier. 
    The portion of the contiguous United States under
exceptional drought expanded, however, to 6.64 percent from 6.49
    The winter storm that hit the region Wednesday night and
Thursday brought snowfall of four to eight inches in parts of
Nebraska and Kansas, with Iowa and Wisconsin also getting hit.
    The storm is expected to move further east across the U.S.
Midwest on Thursday, with as much as 12 inches of snow expected
in southern Wisconsin.

 (Reporting by Carey Gillam in Kansas City; Editing by Alden

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