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Drought: It's own kind of hurricane

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I bet you look at a map like this and think "Well, its dry to the west and wet to the east!" Thanks, Imelda.

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The U.S. Drought Monitor is jointly produced by the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the United States Department of Agriculture, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Map courtesy of NDMC.

Of course, that's an easy and quick way to look at it.

Did you know that no single agency is in charge of determining if an area is in drought? In fact, NOAA, the USDA and the National Drought Mitigation Center all put their best efforts into deciding where drought is occurring and where it isn't. They use satellite maps, vegetation maps, river flows, rain reports AND what they hear from YOU. That's right! You can email them with your conditions, and they will take that into consideration when they draw the maps each week (they create these on Tuesday and release them on Thursday).

So WHY is the drought monitor so important? Other than the obvious, the IRS may use it to defer taxes where livestock sales are hit hardest due to drought, or the USDA can determine where low-interest loans will be needed to recover.

Drought is as devastating to the country as a hurricane: loss of crops, cattle, other animals, wildfires, water shortages. tree loss. All of those can cause serious economic hurt.

Burn ban maps are also determined by drought, and we have more than half our counties under those right now:

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Remember, no single authority is in charge of deciding who is in drought or how bad it is. YOU can have a big role in that (and believe me, I hear from people all the time wanting rain because it's so dry).

So, take a minute to get involved. Become a drought reporter, so to speak. Here are a few links:

To get in touch with those who create the maps, send an email here.

To submit photos and conditions, send an email here.

To learn more about the US Drought Monitor, like I did for this blog today, go here!

Have a wonderful weekend.

Frank

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