The extraordinary nature of the past week — triple-digit temperatures, explosive wildfires and disappointing rains — was underscored by the Thursday map released by the National Drought Mitigation Center, housed at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. (Click here to see the map.)
» About two-thirds of Nebraska is now in extreme to exceptional drought; one week ago, that number was 5 percent. More than a quarter of Iowa is in extreme drought, up from none.
» The rest of the two states are in severe drought. Crop and pasture losses have gone from “likely” to “widespread,” and water restrictions have become common.
» Worst-hit is the area from Broken Bow, Neb., east to about Albion, where drought is classified as exceptional. Broken Bow has received 1.22 inches of rain since May 1, about a tenth of normal, according to Cliff Cole, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in North Platte. “It's just disastrous,” he said.
» This is the largest share of Iowa in severe drought in the U.S. Drought Monitor's 12-year history; Nebraska suffered through more intense drought in 2002 and 2003, peaking in July 2002 at 81 percent of the state in extreme to exceptional drought.
» The drought is expected to continue into fall.
Sources: National Drought Mitigation Center, National Weather Service/North Platte, U.S. Climate Prediction Center.