Forecast: US drought lingering but leveling off
Federal weather forecasters released a report providing little if any comfort for farmers and ranchers who already have begun tallying this year’s losses.
While the latest forecast from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center calls for the drought to linger in the nation’s breadbasket and parts of some mountain states at least through November, it provided a silver lining with the news that conditions aren’t expected to get worse.
Conditions may even improve in the Southwest and in a band sweeping from South Dakota through a section of Iowa and east to southern Indiana, then south to Texas. Some areas have seen rain and cooler temperatures in recent weeks, although one forecaster cautioned he doesn’t expect enough extra rain to end the drought.
The rain and break in 100-degree temperatures comes too late for most farmers and ranchers, who already have seen crops wither and pastures dry up. Corn farmers in some areas cut their fields weeks ago, giving the year up as a loss. Many ranchers have sold livestock because they had no grass for grazing or money to buy feed.
Even farmers who still have crops in the field aren’t likely to benefit from rain this late in the growing season. In some areas, farmers who planted corn early in the unusually warm spring have started harvesting.