Much of US Choked by Drought

61% of lower 48 suffering drought-like conditions

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Apr 13, 2012 9:01 AM CDT

(Newser) – Last year, dry conditions cost Southern farmers some $10 billion, and once again, things are looking bleak. Some 61% of the lower 48 states is experiencing drought or "abnormally dry" weather—the biggest proportion of the country since September 2007, USA Today reports. Just two states have completely escaped such conditions: Ohio and Alaska, federal monitors say. The trouble comes after a mild, mainly dry winter.

Georgia is faring particularly poorly, with more than 63% of the state classified as suffering the worst two levels of drought. Even New England, which rarely experiences drought, is struggling—this despite the wettest-ever August in Vermont, thanks to Hurricane Irene. In California, mountain snowpack water levels are 45% lower than usual. A wet winter in the Southern Plains has provided a bit of good news, however, with eastern Texas seeing improvement.

A drought has afflicted some 61% of the contiguous US.   (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
In this Aug 3, 2011 file photo, Texas State Park police officer Thomas Bigham walks across the cracked lake bed of OC Fisher Lake, in San Angelo, Texas.   (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez, File)
In this Aug. 25, 2011 photo, severe drought conditions in southeastern New Mexico are shown at Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge in Roswell, NM.   (AP Photo/Roswell Daily Record Mark Wilson, File)
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