Ecclesiastes 1:7; All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again.
With drought conditions in large parts of the US as bad as they are, New Jersey has been blessed with enough precipitation for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) to declare the drought condition in the entire state as normal.
The US Drought Monitor, produced in partnership between the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the United States Department of Agriculture, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, shows drought conditions throughout the US and is updated each Thursday. The Drought Monitor shows drought conditions as abnormally dry (D0), moderate (D1), severe (D2), extreme (D3), and exceptional (D4).
Presently, conditions across the US are as follows: only about 6% of the Northeast ranges from D0 through D4 (New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware are all normal with no drought); 62% of the Southeast ranges from D0 though D4; 60% of the Midwest ranges from D0 through D4; 64% of the South ranges from D0 through D4 (this includes Texas and Oklahoma – Texas is largely in some drought condition ranging from D0 through D4 and Oklahoma has 100% drought ranging from D2 through D4); 95% of the High Plains ranges from D0 through D4 (this includes Kansas and Nebraska, each 100% from D2 through D4); 74% of the West ranges from D0 through D4; 58% of Alaska ranges from D0 through D4; even 60% of Hawaii ranges from D0 through D4.
The US Drought Impact Reporter is an RSS (Rich Site Summary) feed where you can read some first-hand accounts of the impact of the drought. Some of these reports were posted February 15th:
- The Colorado Humane Society received a gift of 21 tons of hay from a generous, anonymous donor. The hay, worth about $7,000, is intended to feed neglected horses. Wildfires in the past few years and drought have cut into hay supplies, making any available hay very expensive. Denver Post (Colo.), Feb. 13, 2013.
- Seven of the 24 ethanol plants in Nebraska have closed as high corn prices increase the cost of ethanol production to unprofitable levels. The ethanol plant in Hastings closed recently. Many of the plants that have stopped production will resume production after the 2013 corn harvest. KOLN/KGIN (Lincoln, Neb.), Feb. 4, 201.
- The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City reported strong levels of lending during the fourth quarter of 2012 as drought hampered hay and grain production in the Midwest and Plains. Farmers took out loans to tide them over until the next growing season brings better crop growth and production. Wall Street Journal (N.Y.), Feb. 1, 2013.
Some reports are from August 2012:
- Creeks and farm ponds dry, gardens and trees affected in Colbert County, Alabama - Our upland creeks are dry (third time this summer), farm pond level is very low, vegetable garden production is in limbo (again), trees are defoliating.
- Pond dried up, landscape plants stressed in Livingston County Missouri - This area is very dry. We are warned to be careful of fires. My yard is brown. My pond is down to a tiny puddle without a single frog. Redbud trees look dead. Evergreen shrubs look burned on top. I fear for my big oaks. No bother with insects when sitting out at night.
- Dry conditions affecting homeowner's well and cistern in Natrona County, Wyoming - My well has slowed to 2 gallons per minute refill rate. My 1,000 gallon cistern has run dry 5 times this summer just to water my garden. My corn is less than 5' tall. Trees are not doing well.
If the current drought continues, reports of the kind from August 2012 could be repeated. Here in New Jersey, let us count our blessings and pray for their continuance, but let us also pray for the blessing of rain, at moderate, sustained levels, across this great nation of ours, especially in all the places where the drought is having devastating effects of one kind or another.