Oftentimes, the wintertime is when moisture recharges the countryside and eliminates drought. So far, however, that is not the case in the Carolina-Virginia region this winter, particularly in those areas where drought has been abnormal, severe, or worse. Neither has winter greatly diminished drought In Texas, much which remains in a very severe drought condition.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture calls 2011-2012 the "year without a winter". In its latest Crop Production Report, released Feb 9, USDA notes the majority of the continental U.S. reported above-normal temperatures, with monthly temperatures averaging 10 degrees above normal in parts of the north-central U.S. Near to slightly below-normal temperatures prevailed in southern Florida and the Pacific Northwest, however.
"Meanwhile, drought remained a concern across much of the Deep South as the spring planting season approached," said the report. "In fact, drought intensified during January in the southern Atlantic region, where mostly dry weather and occasional freezes resulted in the deterioration of pasture conditions."
The Atlantic Coast States were unusually dry, noted the report.
On February 14 the U.S. Drought Monitor displayed a map that was not wholly different than in the middle of the summer. Some areas in Texas have seen some better moisture but, overall, much of west and southern Texas and parts of western Oklahoma remain in extreme or exceptional drought. That drought snakes along the gulf states into Florida and up into Georgia and southern South Carolina. All of South Carolina remains in abnormally dry, moderate or severe drought or worse. Similarly the eastern two-thirds of North Carolina are in abnormally dry, moderate drought or severe drought conditions. The easternmost counties of Virginia are also suffering from abnormally dry conditions.
On the other hand, although the drought conditions in the Carolinas and Virginia remain problematic, Extension personnel note there is enough water to work the land and get ready for planting. A few good rains, properly spread out, could make for a good or even excellent crop, in spite of the current drought situation.
Check out the latest drought situation by visiting the U.S. Drought Monitor at http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/