Drought Now Covers Half the U.S.

Over 50 percent of the U.S. was in at least some level of drought for the fourth-straight week. The U.S. Drought Monitor says the combination of extreme heat and low rainfall is pulling moisture from plants and the soil. The Western U.S. and, especially, California remains in a drought that’s lasted several years. While drought is an increasing worry in the Northeast, Midwest, and South, extreme rainfall events are hitting parts of Kentucky and Mississippi. A flash flood warning was issued for St. Louis late last week, thanks to rainfall rates of several inches per hour. Drought also expanded in some parts of the Southern Plains, particularly in Texas, where the consequences are hitting agriculture and cattle ranching. Drought impacts in Texas ranged from crop failure to water supply problems. The only improvement in the monitor came from heavy rains in the Texas Panhandle, Oklahoma, Arkansas, northern Mississippi, and parts of Tennessee.