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article imageWinter forecast — worsening drought conditions for southern U.S.

By Karen Graham     Oct 30, 2016 in Environment
While the next few months may bring some relief from one of the hottest summers on record for much of the U.S., there won't be any relief forthcoming for the 45 percent of the country suffering from "significant" drought conditions.
Historically, the southeastern part of the country has always enjoyed an abundance of water, especially when you consider that so much of the soil is poor at holding this important resource. But the South has spent the last six months in a drought.
Now that resource is becoming scarce as southern states look forward with trepidation to more months of a deepening drought that is expected to spread into the Southern Plains, according to recent seasonal forecasts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
The forecast for the southern part of the country is calling for dry weather to dominate through November, and this will only worsen the already extreme drought conditions in many parts of the South.
Believe it or not, but severe to extreme drought conditions are already plaguing many regions, from northern Mississippi to northern Georgia and southeastern Tennessee. Drought conditions have reached the "exceptional" level on the northern border of Georgia and Alabama.
"Here at my farm, April 15 was when the rain cut off," said David Bailey, who had to sell half his cattle, more than 100 animals, for lack of hay in Alabama's scorched northeast corner, reports ABC News.
Across much of the South, from Oklahoma and Texas to Florida and Virginia, the drought is killing crops, threatening livestock and sinking lakes and reservoirs to their lowest levels in years.
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"There are places getting ready to set records for most numbers of days in a row without rain. It's a once-in-100-year kind of thing for this time of year," said John Christy, Alabama's state climatologist.
There is a lot of concern over the possibility of initiating water restrictions like those seen in the western part of the country, something that hasn't been seen in the South in about 10 years, or so. But it really has gotten bad in some places.
The Tallapoosa River in west Georgia dropped below the intake the Haralson County Water Authority uses to provide water for four towns a couple weeks ago. Some big cities, like Atlanta, Georgia are spending big in an effort to prevent water shortages in the future.
AccuWeather Long-Range Forecaster Paul Pastelok says there may be some rain in the middle or latter part of the first week in November, but it won't be enough to make any dent in the drought conditions. He also adds that the forecast for early winter "is not good news for precipitation," either.
One good thing about the drought is that the eastern Carolinas will have a chance to clean up after the severe flooding that was the result of the heavy rainfall from Hurricane Matthew.
And here's another bit of good news. "The worst of the drought is outside of the major agricultural areas in the Southeast, including the cotton and peanut areas," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist and Agricultural Meteorologist Dale Mohler said.
More about drought conditions, southern US, worsening drought, 13 southern states, water use restrictions
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