NOAA: Spring holds little reprieve from drought

Courtesy of NOAA.

Courtesy of NOAA.

Spring has sprung.

Well, officially anyway. Although Wednesday marked the first day of spring, it was difficult to tell as much of the Northeast got slapped with a snowstorm.

Unfortunately, despite the snow, the odds of last summer’s drought continuing into spring are high, according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

NOAA’s three month spring outlook predicts above average temperature across the U.S., including areas of the country hit hardest by the drought – the Great Plains, the Southwest and areas of Texas and Florida. Along with the higher than usual temperatures, NOAA also predicted lower than average precipitation.

Currently, 51 percent of the continental U.S. is in drought, which is expected to not only continue, but to increasingly affect other areas of the U.S., including additional areas in the Southwest, Florida and Texas along with the Southern Rockies and California, NOAA reports.

However, some areas such as the Great Lakes and the Ohio Valley may experience wetter than usual conditions. Additionally, river flooding is expected to be worse this year than last year.

Last year saw the highest rate of drought since 2003. In many areas, it devastated crops and led to outbreaks of aflatoxin, a natural toxin produced by strains of the fungi Aspergillus flavus and A. parasiticus. The fungi that produces aflatoxin thrives in hot, dry conditions.

For NOAA’s full report, click here.

For more of Neogen blog’s drought coverage, click here.

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