This autumn has been marked by heavy rain and catastrophic flooding in some parts of the United States. Drought, however, continues to plague large sections of the country.
According to the latest report from the U.S. Drought Monitor, 49% of the nation is dealing with drought. While this number represents a slight improvement for parts of the west, both the southeast and northeast have been drying out.
Currently, 57% of the southeastern US is in some form of drought and 21% is suffering from conditions of extreme drought. These parched conditions, which have been building for months, are now fueling wildfires across the region. According to the US Forest Service, 59 of the 61 active large wildfires burning in this country are in the southeast.
Another hard hit area is the northeast, where 19% of the region is in severe or extreme drought. Water restrictions are in place in parts of Massachusetts and communities in New Jersey are asking residents to conserve water voluntarily.
On the other side of the country, California – now in its fifth year of drought – received some much-needed rainfall recently. However, most of it fell only in the northern counties. Overall, 88% of the Golden State remains in some form of drought with 21% in exceptional drought, the worst possible category.
The Drought Monitor is a weekly publication produced by a partnership of government agencies, including the National Drought Mitigation Center, the United States Department of Agriculture, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.