Winter brings no drought relief to U.S.

Dec. 7, 2012 at 4:19 PM

WASHINGTON, Dec. 7 (UPI) -- The arrival of winter has not helped U.S. farmers as nearly two-thirds of the country is still plagued by moderate to exceptional drought, officials said.

Around 62 percent of the continental United States is experiencing some level of drought, the weekly Drought Monitor report released Thursday said.

The U.S. Drought Monitor is a partnership involving the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the United States Department of Agriculture and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

"It's not looking very promising right now," David Miskus, a meteorologist at NOAA's climate prediction center, told The New York Times.

The 62 percent drought figure compares with around 29 percent at this point in 2011, the Drought Monitor reported.

And the Seasonal Drought Outlook from the National Weather Service is predicting at least three more months of drought conditions in most of the dry regions west of the Mississippi.

The drought condition are also impact water systems throughout the country, particularly the Mississippi River, experts said.

"If we continue to get or stay below normal for rainfall, and if the level continues to drop, we could even get close to or surpass the record low level on the river, Jim Kramper, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service, told the Times.

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