Special Report

Seven States Running Out of Water

7. Texas
> Pct. severe drought: 56.1%
> Pct. extreme drought: 39.9% (4th highest)
> Pct. exceptional drought: 20.7% (3rd highest)

Much of north and central Texas, including all of the Texas Panhandle, was covered in exceptional drought as of last week. In all, almost 40% of land area in the state experienced extreme drought conditions. Recently, some have said the heavy use of water in natural gas fracking processes in North Texas is problematic during the area’s drought. Additionally, the drought could have a large impact on the state’s agriculture industry. Texas had nearly a quarter of a million farms, the most out of any state in the nation, as of 2012.


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6. Oklahoma
> Pct. severe drought: 64.5%
> Pct. extreme drought: 50.1% (2nd highest)
> Pct. exceptional drought: 30.4% (the highest)

Severe drought covered over 50% of Oklahoma as of last week, up from roughly 33% one year ago. The state’s drought worsened from the middle of April, when just 27% of the state experienced severe drought. The state’s 80,000-plus farms and nearly 310,000 hired farm workers have been struggling with the drought conditions. The situation is all the more difficult because the state is supposed to be in the midst of its rainy season. An open burn ban is in effect for the western part of the state due to fire hazards resulting from the drought. In March, the Oklahoma Emergency Drought Relief Commission awarded more than $1 million to several drought-ridden communities in the state.

5. Arizona
> Pct. severe drought: 76.3%
> Pct. extreme drought: 7.7% (9th highest)
> Pct. exceptional drought: 0.0%

Unlike other states suffering the most from drought, none of Arizona experienced exceptional drought. Severe drought conditions, however, engulfed more than three-quarters of the state as of last week. While dry conditions are not particularly unusual in Arizona at this time of year, the U.S. Drought Monitor accounts for local seasonal patterns in assessing drought conditions. Moreover, the extreme heat and lighter-than-average snowfall from the winter have reduced the soil moisture to such a degree that fire hazards are significantly higher.

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4. Kansas
> Pct. severe drought: 80.8%
> Pct. extreme drought: 48.1% (3rd highest)
> Pct. exceptional drought: 2.8% (6th highest)

Like several states running out of water, 80% of Kansas was engulfed in at least severe drought, an increase from one year ago when roughly 70% was covered by severe drought. Compared to last May, however, when exceptional drought covered nearly one fifth of the state, just 2.8% of Kansas was considered exceptionally dry as of last week. In announcing the severity of the state’s drought problem, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback lifted restrictions on taking water from state-owned fishing lakes.

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