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Drought expands further into Texas

While the Rolling Plains and other parts of Texas experienced near-perfect conditions for the wheat harvest, other parts of the state became further parched, according to Texas AgriLife Extension Service personnel.

The North, Southeast, Panhandle and nearly all of East Texas remained dry, with dryland crops not growing or stressed due to lack of moisture.

Meanwhile, the National Drought Policy Commission extended its classification of "moderate drought" for about a dozen East Texas counties on May 25 to all of 27 and parts of eight others by June 1, according to Rich Tinker, climatologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's climate prediction center, Washington D.C.

"Moderate drought that was confined close to the Louisiana border the week before has expanded westward to include a larger area, including areas northwest of Houston," Tinker said. "And we introduced some severe drought over a large part of northern Louisiana but not yet extending into Texas."

What is the difference between "moderate drought" and "severe drought?" Tinker said the determination is somewhat subjective, but climatologists try to look at "drought on as many time scales as possible and looking at as many impacts as possible, but certainly emphasizing those impacts that seem more serious at any given time."

On the commission's Drought Portal website at http://www.drought.gov/, droughts are classified by number designations. D0 is "abnormally dry," D1 is a "moderate drought," D2 is a "severe" drought, D3 is an "extreme" drought and D4 is an "exceptional" drought, he said.

"The D0 area is generally something that is dry on the scale of a three in 10-year occurrence," Tinker said. "D1 is roughly a two-in-10-year occurrence. D2 roughly one in 10-year occurrence, a D3 is in the order of a one-in-20-year occurrence and a D4 is roughly in the order of a one-in-50-year occurrence."

The U.S. Drought Monitor map of Texas for June 1 can be found online at http://www.drought.unl.edu/dm/pdfs/tx_dm.pdf.

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