Much of US Choked by Drought
61% of lower 48 suffering drought-like conditions
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Apr 13, 2012 9:01 AM CDT
A drought has afflicted some 61% of the contiguous US.   (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
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(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.