Drought Across U.S. Reaches Highest Levels Since 2014

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  • Eastern cold snaps offset by warm West to boost temperatures
  • Drought covers more than one-third of lower 48 states
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In January, the East was cold, the West was warm and drought reached its largest extent since 2014, the National Centers for Environmental Information said Wednesday.

The average temperature across the U.S. in January was 32.2 degrees Fahrenheit (0.1 Celsius). Cold snaps in the central U.S. and East brought more than 4,000 new daily cold temperature records, according to a statement online. Warmer readings in the western U.S. offset the chill, as monthly temperatures in nine states ranked among the 10 warmest on record and 2,000 daily warm temperature records were logged.

Source: National Centers for Environmental Information

Drought, which has left winter wheat struggling across the Great Plains, expanded to cover 38.4 percent of the contiguous U.S., the most since May 2014. Only 14 percent of Kansas wheat was rated in good or excellent condition at the end of the month, the lowest for that time since 2006, according to an earlier U.S. Department of Agriculture report.

— With assistance by Megan Durisin

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