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Drought Surges Westward

Drought Surges Westward

Drought continues its push into New Mexico and California, threatening pasture and rangeland

While one half of the country turns in quiet weather and therefore uneventful drought monitor reports, the West continues to struggle under the tightening grip of expanding dry conditions.

According to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor released Thursday, New Mexico remains squarely in the path of destruction for a drought that continues to linger in the Plains but advances into the Southwest.

Data from the NOAA National Climatic Data Center shows the past 12 months in New Mexico were the driest on record for the state. That's coupled with the past 24 and 36 months coming in as the second driest on record.

Drought continues its push into New Mexico and California, threatening pasture and rangeland

As the rest of the contiguous U.S. sits with a collective 51.3% of the land area in some level of drought, New Mexico shows 100% of the state in some level of drought.

But portions of Colorado, the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles and Western Kansas aren't much better. Colorado also shows 100% and Kansas shows nearly 75% in moderate to exceptional drought.

The dry conditions aren't doing much for livestock producers, but a silver lining is the ease of wheat harvest due to stretches without rain – even if the quality isn't top-notch.

Current conditions, according to USDA, come in at 32% good to excellent and 43% very poor to poor. That's compared to 54% good to excellent and 17% very poor to poor at this time last year.

Drought Surges Westward

"The biggest problems continue on," USDA Meteorologist Brad Rippey said, "and at this point, any weather changes are going to be too late for that crop, which is more than harvested in the South."

As for the New Mexico and California pasture and rangeland, 0% is rated good to excellent. Just 2% is rated the same in Arizona.

"The new center of drought has really become the Southwest," Rippey confirmed. Producers continue to look forward to the coming monsoon season in the region.

Meanwhile, pockets of short-term drought have popped up in areas East of the Mississippi, though they remain contained. A portion of drought that remained in the southwestern region of Minnesota has also retreated.

Though the Drought Monitor reflects data collected from the previous week, here's a look at the National Weather Service 7-day observed precipitation map going back to June 20.

Drought Surges Westward

TAGS: USDA Livestock
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