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What The 'Drought Monitor' Means

August 2, 2012, 4:58 PM by Ben Cathey

What The 'Drought Monitor' Means

You've heard us talking a lot lately about something known as the Drought Monitor and the newest version of it came out on Thursday.

On the surface, it won’t look like much has changed with the newest Drought Monitor. The colors line up in similar spots and the amount of area effected appears to be stabilizing.

But go outside and it looks like things are getting worse.

It helps to understand exactly what those colors and numbers mean. But there is no easy answer because there are at least eight different large drought scales available.

The scale we've been using runs from D-0 to D-4. D-0 is the tan areas and represents areas that are abnormally dry. While D-4 is the dark red areas. This is where you'll find areas of exceptional drought. The scale and colors also cover everything in between. 

Moderate drought reflects imminent water shortages for some. 

At severe levels, crop losses are likely.

Once you head into 'extreme drought' territory, pasture lands have dried up and there are widespread water restrictions in place.

The exceptional drought is the highest level. KELOLAND hasn't reached that yet. That's when wells and others sources run completely dry, causing water emergencies. Climatologists say these conditions should only strike once every 50 years or so.

So, what’s the bottom line? The Drought Monitor is a sliding scale that's often tweaked as conditions develop.

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