More of U.S. in drought now than in recent history

Lack of precipitation and heat reflected in The Drought Monitor-

Twelve years ago the National Drought Mitigation Center created the Drought Monitor.  Drought Monitor blends various indicators of drought to create a U.S. map showing if any of the country is experiencing drought. It also shows how severe the drought conditions are. Supplementary maps show short term drought and long term drought areas. There is also a drought animation showing how drought over the country has changed as time passes.  There are also drought statistics in tables on the Drought Monitor web site.

Right now more of the United States is experiencing drought than at any other time in the Monitor’s 12 year history.  Only Florida, the Northeast, a bit of the upper mid-West, and about half of the Pacific Northwest are not in drought.

This drought comes at a time when there are growing efforts in Congress to weaken water pollution laws, and many levels of government are backing full out production of natural gas by the relative new method of fracking, which critics say often pollutes the ground water from shallow to very deep due to sloppy technique and lack of desire to prohibit the method in areas where the fracking liquids are likely to pollute water that comes near the surface — shallow aquifers.

Simple extrapolation shows a very near future harm where wildlife, crops, and people are desperate for water almost everywhere, especially water not full of toxics.

You can’t eat gold or drink oil.

Science Daily has an article today on the record breaking drought as shown by the Drought Monitor. 
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Information on fracking and Idaho’s water. Is Idaho’s clean drinking water being threatened? By Liz Amason. Examiner.

Below is the current Drought Monitor map for the Western United States.

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  1. Robert R Avatar
    Robert R

    Went exploring in the high mountains yesterday above 9000 feet and from about 6000 and up the conditions were compairable to 1988. Some places were worse with springs already dried up and the vegetation very short for this early. The snow in the high mountains is almost gone above 9000 feet.
    In traveling around thirty miles round trip we never seen any game other than gophers and squirrels. We looked for mountain goats but seen none although there was some bear sign in the lower elevations.

  2. steve Avatar

    Here in northern Iowa, we have had 21.5 inches of water equivalent precipitation since August 1st, 2011. That figure includes 20 inches of snow–half our normal snowfall–at the 10 percent water equivalent, i.e., 20 inches of snow equals 2 inches of rain.

    Average annual total water precipitation here is 35 inches with about 30 inches of rain during the growing season–plenty for corn and beans.

    The corn was pollinating last week–or trying to–with no rain for two or three weeks and air temps around 100.

    No big drought by western standards, but the driest and hottest I’ve seen it here in 15 years.

  3. Salle Avatar

    An interesting and thought provoking article on many political topics but environmental destruction (and why we don’t do more about it) figures heavily in the piece. Not sure where to put it but this thread seems like a good place for it…


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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Ralph Maughan