The ongoing drought in the United States has ties to La Nina, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration meteorologists say. La Nina is a weather pattern that consists of an abnormal cooling of the Pacific Ocean that brings dry conditions to the southwestern United States and Mexico. La Nina has been linked to the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, the dry spells in the Southwest of the 1950s and the drought from 1998-2002. See 5 areas being hit by the drought in the United States.
The Plains states, including areas in Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma, have been hit hard by the drought. Iowa, the nation's biggest corn and soybean producer, saw drought conditions further deteriorate. The amount of the state in extreme or exceptional drought more than doubled from 30.74 percent to 69.14 percent now. In Nebraska, the expanse of land considered in the two worst drought categories rose to 91.2 percent, The Associated Press reports. The amount of Kansas in exceptional drought rose to 38.58 percent, while Illinois jumped to 81.18 percent.
According to Michael Brewer with NOAA's National Climatic Data Center, recent storms helped areas in the upper Midwest and around the Great Lakes see "marked improvement" from drought conditions. The U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook says that at least some improvement is forecast for much of the central Rockies, the Southwest, the southern Great Plains, the Ohio Valley, the Great Lakes region, the upper Midwest and the eastern tier of states. Wet weather is favored in late August in the Ohio Valley and eastern Great Lakes region, where seasonal temperature declines could also have an impact.
The current and ongoing drought in Texas began in October 2010, according to NPR, and the state endured its worst single-year drought in its history in 2011. Although conditions have improved recently, drought losses in 2011 included $7.62 billion in agriculture, $3.23 billion in the cattle sector and $2.2 billion in cotton production. The latest U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook suggests that odds favor above-normal precipitation for the remainder of August from southern and eastern Texas, and the long-lead outlook for September through November indicated enhanced chances for above-normal precipitation in eastern Texas, Louisiana and Alabama.
According to Bloomberg Businessweek, more major rivers start in Colorado's Rocky Mountains than in any other U.S. state. However, many tributaries that rely on meltwater from snowpack are currently running dry, cutting into the tourism industry. The U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook from August 16, from the Rockies westward, improvement was forecast for much of Arizona and adjacent portions of southern California, southeastern Utah, southwestern Colorado and western New Mexico.
In Georgia, a quarter of the state has been classified as being under "exceptional drought," which is the highest level recorded. The epicenter of the drought in the Southeast, according to climatologist David Zierden of the Florida State University Center for Ocean-Atmospheric Prediction Studies, has been in central and southwest Georgia and into Alabama. Counties in Arkansas, Georgia, and Tennessee were recently added to the government's list of natural disaster areas, along with other counties in drought-stricken states. The U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook suggests that the southeastern drought region has been slowly improving for months now and improvement is the logical forecast.