Drought area smaller, but expected to worsen in Spring - FOX 32 News Chicago

Drought area smaller, but expected to worsen in Spring

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

The U.S. drought of 2012 is considered the worst since the 1950s, but there appears to be some brief relief thanks to recent soaking rains stretching from the south through the southeast and the Midwest to the Mid-Atlantic states. Areas of the Great Plains are not so lucky with persistent drought continuing there. Thus far the drought is estimated to have cost more than $35 billion in crop loss with a final cost topping $100 billion making it the most expensive disaster of 2012.

In the latest drought outlook issued on January 17th more than 58% of the lower 48 states was experiencing drought. That is down slightly from more than 60% just a week earlier. At its peak in July the drought encompassed 62% of the lower 48 states. Experts have forecast the drought to continue through at least April and is expected to worsen in many areas.

Climate scientists believe the drought was amplified by weather patterns driven by water temperatures in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. There is also discussion that climate change due to man-made warming of the atmosphere could have played a role. The unrelenting heat wave during the spring and summer of 2012 intensified the drought situation.

Below are the current drought monitors for Illinois and Indiana along with the National Drought Outlook. You can see that 72% of Illinois is still under drought conditions while only 28% of Indiana remains affected.

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