March 14 Drought continued to retreat in many
areas of the U.S. Plains as snow and rainfall replenished
parched soils and gave farmers and ranchers an improved outlook
for better crop and livestock conditions, according to a report
issued on Thursday.
Eight U.S. states continued to suffer from the worst level
of drought, dubbed "exceptional" by the Drought Monitor, a
report issued by a consortium of state and federal
climatologists each week. But many saw improvement.
According to this week's report:
* The High Plains region, the area hit the hardest by
drought, showed that exceptional drought f e l l t o 24.37 percent
of the region for the week that ended March 12, from 25.87
percent in the prior week. The second-worst drought level,
"extreme," gripped 55.58 percent, down from 55.76 percent. And
the third-worst level of drought, "severe," had a hold on 81.46
percent of the region, but that was down from 82.03 percent the
prior week, the report said.
* In Kansas, the top U.S. wheat-growing state, severe
drought, which had gripped 100 percent of the state, dropped to
96.41 percent, the Drought Monitor report said. Extreme drought
engulfed 64.62 percent of Kansas, down from 69.75 percent a week
earlier. And exceptional drought had a hold on 21.41 percent of
the state, down slightly from 21.43 percent.
* Exceptional drought in Nebraska fell to 76.41 percent,
down from 76.76 percent of the state, while extreme drought rose
slightly to 96.13 percent from 96.10 percent.
* In Colorado, exceptional drought was unchanged at 21.22
percent of the state, down from 24.92 percent, and extreme
drought edged higher to 48.06 percent from 48.04 percent.
* Oklahoma is one of the states that has benefited the most
from recent precipitation. Oklahoma saw severe drought fall to
83.16 percent from 100 percent; while extreme drought dropped to
56.70 percent from 61.65 percent of the state. Exceptional
drought levels edged higher, however, to 9.71 percent from 9.54
* In Wyoming, exceptional drought held steady at 10.10
percent, but extreme drought improved to 54.70 percent from
* In New Mexico, exceptional drought was unchanged at 4.25
percent while extreme drought levels expanded to 49.93 percent
from 49.88 percent a week earlier.
* South Dakota saw improvement as exceptional drought
dropped to 20.09 percent from 29.58 percent.
* Exceptional drought increased slightly in Texas, to 8.57
percent from 7.41 percent, but extreme drought fell to 23.41
percent from 23.86 percent.
* Overall, for the contiguous United States, "severe" or
worse levels of drought dropped to 34.93 percent from 36.44
percent over the last week and extreme and exceptional drought
levels also improved.
(Reporting by Carey Gillam in Kansas City; Editing by Maureen