Map: U.S. Almost Entirely Drought-Free

It’s keeping farmers out of the fields, but wet conditions in the U.S. have provided at least one benefit: almost the entire country is now free of drought.

According to a report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, that portion of the continental U.S. experiencing some form of drought fell to around just 2% as of the end of April, down from about 28% a year ago and a near record low. The amount of drought did increase slightly in early May, but remains around 2% (see map below).

In comparison, almost two-thirds of the country was considered to be in some form of drought in the fall of 2012, the most recent year in which Midwest corn and soybean crops suffered badly because of overly dry conditions throughout much of the growing season.

Looking at precipitation totals, it’s easy to see why the drought footprint has contracted so much. For the most recent 12-month period (May 2018–April 2019), the contiguous U.S. was record wettest, exceeding the previous record, set back in 2015–16, by 0.25 inch. Ten states, including the No. corn production state of Iowa, ranked record wettest with another seven states ranking among the top three.

For the January-April period, total precipitation was 11.24 inches (1.76 inches above average), making it the seventh wettest year-to-date on record. Meanwhile, for the month of April alone, the average precipitation was 3.17 inches (0.65 of an inch above average), ranking in the top 10% on record for the month.

U.S. drought monitor

Source: DePutter Publishing Ltd.

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