WASHINGTON – Record dryness in the U.S. Southeast has caused drought conditions to intensify this week from Mississippi to Florida, government weather experts said.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said unusually warm and dry weather was also seen this week in the U.S. West, prompting Idaho to declare drought emergencies in two counties.
“For months, many people have been focused on the drought situation in the West and the Plains, but last month was the driest March in more than 100 years for the Southeast,” said Douglas LeComte, NOAA’s drought expert.
NOAA said the Southeast drought extends from southeastern Mississippi eastward into southern Alabama and northwestern Florida and on into central and northeastern Georgia.
This has caused near-record low stream flows and rapidly depleted soil moisture, LeComte said.
NOAA does not predict any improvement in the Southeast until late in the summer.
In the West, NOAA said Clark and Butte counties in Idaho were experiencing an “exceptional drought” – the most severe type of drought. Drought also worsened this week in central Montana and Wyoming.
“All states in the West are gearing up for a potentially early and long fire season as a result of the drought and early snowmelt combination,” NOAA said in its weekly drought monitor.
Forecasters predicted little relief for the West for the rest of the month.