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U.S. Corn Belt, Southwest facing drought

June 21, 2012 at 11:27 AM

WASHINGTON, June 21 (UPI) -- Drought conditions are increasing across the U.S. Corn Belt, the Great Plains and parts of the Mississippi Valley, meteorologists said.

The U.S. drought outlook report released Thursday by the National Weather Service said widespread moderate to severe drought also covers much of the Southwest. Arizona and New Mexico, however, are likely to see some improvement in the dry conditions, depending on the intensity of the seasonal monsoon, meteorologists said.

Hot, dry weather in the eastern Corn Belt is maintaining stress on pastures and summer crops, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said Thursday.

Less than two inches of rain has fallen across much of the Southeast over the past seven days, with the exception of some localized heavy rain across parts of Florida. The Southeast will likely receive rain from tropical cyclones over the next few weeks, the National Weather Service said.

Upper tier states -- Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota and upper Michigan -- should be protected from summer drought by cold frontal passages carried by the polar jet stream, the report said.

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