ALBUQUERQUE, N. M. – The Latest on the worsening drought in the u.s. southern high plans (all times are local):
Forecasters and climatologists say the amount of moisture received in the United States’ southern high plains since October is ridiculously low, resulting in critical fire danger, and winter wheat crops reduced to stubble across different states.
Texas State Climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon said Friday during a national briefing that some areas in the region have received less than one-tenth of an inch of rain in the past five months.
He said that the lack of rain combined with above normal temperatures in parts of New Mexico, Colorado, Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas to make way for record dry conditions in some places.
He warned that the hot and dry weather is expected to continue through the spring, which results in permanent damage to crops, the loss of irrigation supplies, and more forest fires. He showed satellite maps that show the smoke and dust plumes move in the region.
The National Weather Service has issued fire warnings for six states in the nation’s midsection.
The Red Flag warnings issued on Friday, most of Oklahoma, the Texas Panhandle, southern Kansas, northeastern New Mexico, southeastern Colorado, and southeastern Missouri.
Oklahoma Forestry Services has already requested and received, firefighters and equipment from Alabama, Kentucky and Louisiana because of the fire threat that is expected to continue in the coming week. Additional firefighters and equipment from Georgia and Mississippi are on the road.
Forestry spokeswoman Michelle Finch-Walker says they are located at different areas of the state, and that can change daily in anticipation of that area is under the greatest threat of wildfire.
Finch-Walker said the firefighters and equipment could be sent to each of the other member states must arise.
The federal and national experts in drought assessment and long-range forecasting is expected to provide an overview of the critical situation of many of the United States’ southern high plains.
They meet Friday as dry conditions intensify from the plains of eastern New Mexico to the Texas Panhandle and parts of Colorado, Oklahoma and Kansas.
The last map shows strips of red covering the Four Corners of the Region and the southern plateau, with indication of extreme to exceptional drought, the worst categories of drought.
For Oklahoma, this is the first time exceptional drought has made an appearance since May 2015.
In New Mexico, the lack of water and an unusually warm winter have already resulted in a run of hay on reserves and a number of farmers have been forced to trim their herds.