Nov. 2013 was globe's warmest on record, but U.S. drought subsides

By Aarian Marshall

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, Dec. 19, 2013 - This November was the globe's warmest on record, according to new data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The data, released today during the agency's monthly climate update, indicates 2013 is on course to become one of the five warmest years since the government began recording temperatures in 1880.

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In better news for agriculture, NOAA scientists and meteorologists said drought may be easing across much of the U.S.

“Current drought is about the least drought the U.S. has experienced in about two years, since January 2011,” said Michael Brewer, program manager at the U.S. Drought Portal, a clearinghouse for drought-related information.

Brewer noted, however, that drought is still entrenched in some important agricultural regions. Just over a third of corn-growing areas and fifth of areas producing hay are still affected by the overly dry conditions, he said.

Things are looking better, however, for major growing areas in eastern Nebraska and North Dakota, as well as northern Indiana and Ohio, where drought maps show normal levels of precipitation.

NOAA's monthly update indicated a devastating drought in California might not let up anytime soon. The state is experiencing its driest year to date and its most extreme drought since 2007. The agency's three-month seasonal drought outlook shows the phenomenon intensifying in California, as well as neighboring Nevada and the Four Corners region of the Southwest.

Members of the California legislature have asked Governor Jerry Brown for an official drought declaration, and the state Department of Water Resources says it will initially allocate just 5 percent of what farms and cities need for 2014. That number could change, however, if the state receives more rainfall.

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