KANSAS CITY, Missouri - A devastating drought deepened over the last week in many areas, spreading through more of the Plains and going into the Midwest as triple-digit temperatures baked already thirsty crops and livestock.
The Corn Belt states of South Dakota, Iowa, Illinois and Indiana saw drought develop quickly as the important corn-growing region got only spotty rainfall amid the high heat, according to the weekly U.S. Drought Monitor, produced by a consortium of national climate experts.
Abnormal dryness intensified to moderate drought over the last week, according to the report.
Texas remained the epicenter of unprecedented drought, with climate data showing the state suffering its driest 10 months ever in over a century of data.
Levels of "extreme" and "exceptional" drought grew to 94.27 percent of the state from 91.73 percent over the last week, Drought Monitor reported.
"This is unprecedented territory, as the precipitation deficits mount, and triple-digit temperatures continue to increase water demand," it said.
Since January, Texas has received only 40 percent of its normal rainfall, according to the National Weather Service.
Oklahoma also saw conditions worsen, with extreme and exceptional drought now spread through 92.88 percent of the state, up from 88.10 percent.
The deadly drought and triple-digit temperatures have broken numerous records and left the southern Plains and Mississippi Valley struggling to meet demand for power and water, while causing billions of dollars in damage to crops and livestock.
Weather experts attribute the drought to last year's La Nina, the weather anomaly which is typically followed by about a 10 percent drop in precipitation.
(Reporting by Carey Gillam; Editing by John Picinich)
Copyright 2011 Reuters US Online Report Top News