The drought has eased only slightly for the contiguous United States. 58.83% of the country is experiencing a moderate to exceptional drought according to the latest numbers from the US Drought Monitor. That is down only .65% from a week ago. 18.30% of the country is experiencing extreme to exceptional drought, down just 1.06% from a week ago. Locally, the news was a bit better. 43.6% of Illinois is in a moderate to severe drought compared to 54.47% of the state last week.
The bottom line is the drought continues to linger across our country. The long range forecast calls for some improvement for portions of the midwest and southeast but little relief for the areas hardest hit, the plains and southwest. The drought's impact is affecting winter wheat. The USDA reports 36% of the crop is rated good to excellent, down from last year's rating of 50%.
The ongoing drought and unusually warm weather for the US go hand in hand. The January through October period was the warmest first ten months of any year on record. We aren't the only ones feeling the heat this year. Globally, October 2012 was the 5th warmest ever since record keeping began in 1880. It was also the 3th consecutive October and 332nd consecutive month with a global temperature above the 20th century average.
Other highlights from the National Climatic Data Center's State of the Climate report:
- Record to near-record warmth over land from April to September and above-average global ocean temperatures resulted in the first ten months of 2012 ranking as the eighth warmest such period on record.
- The January–October worldwide land surface temperature was 1.69°F (0.94°C) above the 20th century average, making this the sixth warmest such period on record.
- The global ocean surface temperature for the year to date was 0.79°F (0.44°C) above average, tying with 1997 as the 10th warmest such period on record.