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Washington Voices

Slim chance of drought relief soon

Thu., Feb. 7, 2013, midnight

A recent study indicates that major solar-induced drought patterns have recurred across the midsection of the U.S. approximately every 80 years since at least the early 1600s. Some of the most severe droughts have lasted for a decade or longer.

We are still in the latest version of this particular long-term drought cycle. We’ve seen some moisture relief in parts of Texas and the eastern Corn Belt in recent weeks, but parts of the Midwest and much of the Great Plains remain in the firm grip of choking drought with no significant precipitation in sight.

The latest Palmer Drought Index from the National Weather Service, showed that much of Eastern Montana, all of Wyoming, most of Nebraska and large parts of the Dakotas, Minnesota, Iowa, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri and New Mexico were still under “extreme drought conditions.”

The arid weather has led to damage to corn, wheat and soybean crops in the nation’s midsection. Food prices have risen as a result of the continued dryness.

I do not see a major break in the prolonged drought in the nation’s heartland for at least another several months. It appears that a new La Niña, the cooler than normal sea-surface temperature event in the south-central Pacific Ocean, is forming. This type of pattern will often lead to drier weather in the central U.S.

It will take months of above normal moisture in order for these parched regions to recover. The last 80-year drought created the Dust Bowl in the 1930s. Prior to that, there was another major drought from 1856 to 1865.

In terms of our own weather, I see 10 to 15 inches of snow falling in our area between now and early April

If you have any questions or comments, you can contact Randy Mann at wxmann, or go to www.longrange for additional information.

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