Drought Warning

By George Grow

This is Bill White with the VOA Special English AGRICULTURE REPORT.

American officials say farmers in the southern and central United States should prepare for more dry weather.

The officials say higher than normal temperatures are expected during the next few months in states already affected by very dry conditions. They say the higher temperatures will cause rainfall and ground water supplies to disappear more quickly. The drought is expected to affect many farmers. However, American officials say it is not expected to have much effect on food prices in the United States.

The findings are part of a new government report on the effect of drought conditions in the United States. Two months ago, the National Weather Service released its first ever drought warning. Officials noted then that drought conditions are a threat to individuals, agriculture and industry.

The weather experts now say they expect severe to extreme drought conditions to continue in much of the southern United States. Severe drought conditions also are expected to continue in parts of the central United States and Hawaii. The experts say they expect below normal levels of rainfall and hotter weather in the affected areas during the next three months.

The report notes that last month was the driest April ever reported in the state of Missouri. It says fires have been burning uncontrollably in some parts of New Mexico since January. Heavy rains are not expected there until at least July.

National Weather Service director John Kelly says heavy rains cannot correct what two years of the weather event known as La Nina and long-term drought conditions helped to produce.

La Nina has been blamed for a serious lack of rainfall in many parts of the country. La Nina develops when winds near the western coast of South America strengthen. This causes cooler than normal temperatures in the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. The experts say La Nina is expected to weaken during the next several months.

The new drought warning was released with suggestions from a national drought policy group established by Congress. The group called for creation of a permanent committee to better organize the many government programs involved in drought issues. It also proposed improving systems that show where droughts will develop.

This VOA Special English AGRICULTURE REPORT was written by George Grow. This is Bill White.

Voice of America Special English