The Seven States Running Out of Water

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3. New Mexico
> Pct. of state in severe drought: 89.9%
> Pct. of state in extreme drought: 49.9% (6th highest)
> Pct. of state in exceptional drought: 4.3% (8th highest)

As of early March, normal weather conditions persist in only about 0.21% of New Mexico — the highest percentage in nearly a year. However, for most of the state problems remain. Last July, the USDA designated Cibola County as a primary disaster area due to drought. Six counties bordering Cibola, including Bernalillo County where Albuquerque is located, also qualified for natural disaster assistance. In late February, Albuquerque’s water board announced a “drought watch,” which raised fines for wasting water to $40 for first offenders.

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2. Kansas
> Pct. of state in severe drought: 96.4%
> Pct. of state in extreme drought: 64.6% (3rd highest)
> Pct. of state in exceptional drought: 21.4% (2nd highest)

Severe drought conditions persist in more than 96% of Kansas. Furthermore, nearly two-thirds of the state is experiencing extreme drought, while more than one-fifth is experiencing exceptional drought. The good news for Kansas is that rain in March has eased the drought, although National Weather Service meteorologist Andy Kleinsasser told the Associated Press earlier this week that the state is still experiencing “precipitation deficits” of as much as 20 inches in many parts of the state. Kansas produces about 20% of the nation’s wheat, more than any other state. Wheat production was up 38% in 2012 compared to 2011, although the drought affecting the state probably will make this level of production unsustainable for 2013.

1. Nebraska

> Pct. of state in severe drought: 100%
> Pct. of state in extreme drought: 96.1% (the highest)
> Pct. of state in exceptional drought: 76.4% (the highest)

Nebraska is unique among all states in that all areas are experiencing at least a severe drought. Worse, extreme drought conditions persist in more than 96% of the state, with a stunning 76% of the state experiencing exceptional drought. In the next worst-hit state, Kansas, just 21.4% of all area suffers from exceptional drought. Drought has hurt much of the state’s winter wheat crop, 50% of which was in poor or very poor condition at the end of February, up from just 6% last year. The National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center estimates that the drought in Nebraska will last — with some improvement in conditions — through at least the end of May.

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