March 11, 2009

Dry 2009 in parts of the United States

Drought worries intensified as a U.S. meteorologist said January and February were the driest first two months of a year ever recorded in the United States.

Richard Helm of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration told USA Today that the average rainfall in the United States during January and February was a sparse 2.69 inches, the lowest average since NOAA began keeping records in 1895.

About 7 percent of the nation is considered to be in a drought, and while that pales to the roughly two-thirds of the country affeced during the Dust Bowl days, it is enough to worry agriculture and wildfire experts.

Among the problems spots, according to NOAA, are South Florida's dwindling water table, and the below-average mountain snow pack in California and Texas, where pastures and fields are too dry to support spring grazing and planting.

Meanwhile, parts of the Midwest corn belt in Illinois, Iowa, Indiana and Missouri were dealing with flooding this week.