April 25, 2014

Precipitation alleviates drought

The seemingly never-ending drought is nearly history.

Now that the Drought of 2012 is almost over, scientists are debating what to blame it on. U.S.D.A. meteorologist Brad Rippey says global warming and climate change might have been a factor. He says it’s too early to tell. But a recent study by the parent agency for the National Weather Service said it was a “flash drought,’ blamed on a reduction in moisture moving up from the Gulf of Mexico. Whatever the cause, the longer-than-expected winter has given Wisconsin a lot of relief from its previous drought conditions.

The U.S. Drought Monitor said about 40 percent of the state’s land area was abnormally dry or worse this week. That’s down dramatically from a week ago, when around 70 percent of the state’s land area was in a drought. Now, only about the northwest third or so of Wisconsin is at least abnormally dry – and none of the Badger State remains in a severe drought. But the U.S.D.A.’s Rippey says he’s convinced that the drought is totally broken, at least in the southwest United States. He believes a region from California to the southern Plains could be in for another hot and dry summer.