Exceptional Drought Affects Even More Counties
By WestKyStar Staff
PADUCAH, KY - The areas suffering exceptional drought expanded dramatically across our region last week, according to the latest update of the National Drought Monitor.
Back on July 10th, McCracken and Ballard counties were first upgraded to "exceptional drought" status. Later Livingston, Crittenden, Caldwell, and most of Lyon County were added to the list.
In the past week, a much more widespread intensification of the drought has included all of western Kentucky. The list of counties suffering exceptional drought now includes Carlisle, Hickman, Fulton, Graves, Calloway, and Marshall counties, as well as Hopkins, Webster, Union and Henderson.
In southern Illinois, Massac County was in exceptional drought last week along with the tips of Alexander and Pulaski counties, southern Pope, most of Hardin, and the eastern edge of Gallatin County. That boundary has since surged northward and taken in the ten southernmost counties in the state. Ten counties in southeastern Missouri are also now classified as under exceptional drought, as are portions of northwest Tennessee's counties that border Kentucky.
"Exceptional" is the fifth and most intense level on the National Drought Monitor, which is an index calculated by the National Drought Mitigation Center in Nebraska, for the U.S Department of Agriculture and the Department of Commerce. The four lesser drought levels on the index begin with "abnormally dry," and step up progressively to "moderate", "severe", "extreme", and "exceptional" drought.
All of Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri and Indiana are currently at some level of drought, and the entire lower Ohio River valley has suffered extreme drought for many weeks of the spring and summer. Since July 1st, only 1.77 inches of rain have fallen at Barkley Field in Paducah, after less than an inch fell in all of June. Total rainfall for the year is now more than 16 inches below normal.
Drought conditions now affect more than two-thirds of the lower 48 states, the most extensive area in over 12 years. Pasture, rangeland and crop conditions continued to deteriorate from Colorado to the Ohio and mid-Mississippi River valleys, and from Oklahoma to the Dakotas.
As of June 22nd, USDA statistics showed over 90 percent of midwestern topsoil was short or very short of moisture, including 99 percent of the topsoil in Illinois and Missouri. More than 80 percent of pasture land was reported in poor or very poor condition in Illinois, Missouri and Indiana.
Many crops are showing stress across the region, and the situation is becoming dire for local farmers. Corn, soybean, sorghum and alfalfa losses continue to mount, as ponds dry up and wells fail in several states. Rivers and streams in the Ohio and Mississippi valleys are running below normal levels, and Kentucky and Barkley lakes continue to be below normal summer pool stage.
(Gathered from reports issued by the National Weather Service office in Paducah, and the National Drought Monitor
. Links available below)
On the Net: Paducah Weather Service webpageNational Drought Monitor webpage