Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Drought in the Southwest

While some areas of the country are having an overabundance of water, the Southwest is struggling with a lack of moisture. The U.S. Drought Monitor has a lot of interesting maps and data that show the changing levels across the nation. Their archive is very helpful, as it lets you compare two sets of data side by side.

For instance, we can compare this year's most recent map with a map created last year at the same time.

A large portion of the southernmost part of the map is taken up by dark red, indicating an exceptional drought. Texas is hit exceptionally hard.

When this year's map is compared to the map from 2010, it's plain to see that conditions are much worse this year. Though 2010 was not without its 'abnormally dry' patches, there were no 'exceptional droughts.'

The archive can show a table with numerical data for the selected months as well. For the June 28, 2011 map, 11.94% of the United States is experiencing an exceptional drought, and areas with less severe droughts are also increased.

In fact, another feature of the archives at the U.S. Drought Monitor is a graph that shows the data since January of 2000.

The data on this graph goes back more than a decade, and the dark red bump we're currently on is the biggest yet, with 11.84% of America's land suffering from that extreme drought. For comparison, the next-biggest bump, in mid-2002, had the extreme drought percentage at 7.85.

So let's all think rainy thoughts for our southern states, and hope that the drought ends soon and without much more impact than it's already had.

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