Tuesday, September 11, 2012

August 2012 Was Driest on Record for Nebraska

Nebraska, Wyoming and Washington State experienced their driest August on record this past month (118 years of data).  Ironically, several Gulf states and southeastern states experienced an unusually wet month of August.  Hurricane and then Tropical Storm Issac was responsible for the well above normal precipitation along the gulf.
  • The August nationally-averaged precipitation total of 2.59 inches was near the 20th century average, with regional variability across the nation.
  • Drier-than-average conditions stretched from the Pacific Northwest, through the Rockies, and into the Upper Midwest. Nebraska, Washington, and Wyoming each had their driest August on record. Colorado, Idaho, and Oregon each had a top ten dry August.
  • Hurricane Isaac made landfall along Louisiana’s coast on August 28th, with maximum sustained winds of 80 mph. The major impacts from the hurricane were storm surge along the Gulf Coast and heavy rainfall, both of which were driven partially by the storm’s slow motion and large size. Isaac contributed to Louisiana and Mississippi’s second wettest August on record, as well as Florida’s fourth wettest and Alabama’s eighth wettest. The beneficial rains across the region improved drought conditions across the Lower Mississippi River Valley
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  • The warm and dry conditions across much of the West were associated with another month of ideal wildfire conditions. Over 3.6 million acres burned nationwide, mostly across the West. The acreage burned was nearly twice the August average and the most in the 12-year period of record.
  • According to the Palmer Drought Index, which goes back to the beginning of the 20th century, 55.1 percent of the contiguous U.S. was in moderate to extreme drought, a decrease of about 3 percent compared to last month. The percent area in severe to extreme drought increased to 39.0 percent, indicating that the drought has intensified. The 2012 values have been exceeded only by the droughts of the 1930s and 1950s.
  • According to the August 28, 2012, U.S. Drought Monitor (USDM), 62.9 percent of the contiguous U.S. (52.6 percent of the U.S. including Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico) was experiencing moderate-to-exceptional drought, the same as the end of July. The percent area of the nation experiencing the worst drought category, exceptional drought, doubled from 3 percent of the contiguous U.S. at the end of July to 6 percent at the end of August.
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