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Published April 29, 2013, 10:41 AM

Recent storms help some areas, hurt others

The drought’s intensity also has lessened in parts of Minnesota. The previous week, 21 percent of the state was in severe drought, the second worst of four drought categories; the rate is 16 percent now.

By: Agweek Staff and Wire Reports, Agweek

Storms that moved across the Upper Midwest recently did little to ease persistent drought in the region, according to the new weekly report issued April 25 by the U.S. Drought Monitor, a partnership of federal and academic scientists.

The biggest improvement came in Minnesota, where 8 percent of the state is free of drought, up from 3 percent the previous week. Much of the change is in southeast Minnesota, which saw heavy rains.

The drought’s intensity also has lessened in parts of Minnesota. The previous week, 21 percent of the state was in severe drought, the second worst of four drought categories; the rate is 16 percent now.

Conditions also improved slightly in Montana. Fifty-six percent of the state is free of drought, up from 54 percent a week earlier. But the drought’s intensity hasn’t changed in the 44 percent of the state that remains in drought.

South Dakota saw only marginal improvement. The entire state remains in drought, although the percentage of the state in extreme drought, the third worst of the four drought categories, dropped to 29 from 33 a week earlier.

North Dakota saw virtually no change. Fifty-one percent of the state is free of drought, the same as a week earlier. The drought’s intensity also stayed the same.

The weekly report focuses on “broad-scale conditions. Local conditions may vary,” the Drought Monitor says.

Moisture from the recent storms brought muddy fields in Iowa, Nebraska and Illinois, which could delay planting, according to the weekly report.

“Right now, we’re wishing it would dry up so we can get in the field,” says Jerry Main, 74, who plants corn and soybeans on about 500 acres near Fairfield in southeast Iowa.

Main’s farm has had more than 9 inches of rain since April 18. Farmers in his area prefer to plant corn by May 10 at the latest.

The weekly report, which measures conditions for the seven days up to April 23, shows no drought in much of eastern Iowa. It also shows the abnormally dry and moderate drought areas in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan have been eased by the moisture.

From central Iowa to northwest Missouri and southeast Nebraska, precipitation totals of 2 to 6 inches resulted in additional, widespread reductions in drought intensity and coverage.

Precipitation totals were somewhat less in northwest Iowa and northeast Nebraska, where long-term moderate to severe drought persists.

Drought eased in northeast Texas, but moderate to exceptional drought continued and intensified from western Texas and southeast New Mexico into the Oklahoma panhandle.

Moderate to heavy rain also eased drought in eastern and north-central portions of Kansas.

But exceptional drought was expanded in the southeast corner of Colorado and there also was some expansion from central California into the Great Basin and central Rockies.

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