By Doyle Rice, USA TODAY
13 April 2012
The USA hasn't been this dry in almost five years.
Still reeling from last year's devastating drought that led to at least $10 billion in agricultural losses across Texas and the South, the nation is enduring another unusually parched year.
A mostly dry, mild winter has put nearly 61% of the lower 48 states in "abnormally dry" or drought conditions, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, a weekly federal tracking of drought. That's the highest percentage of dry or drought conditions since September 2007, when 61.5% of the country was listed in those categories.
Only two states — Ohio and Alaska — are entirely free of abnormally dry or drought conditions, according to the Drought Monitor.
The drought is expanding into some areas where dryness is rare, such as New England.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, stream levels are at near-record or record lows in much of New England. The Drought Monitor lists all of Vermont as "abnormally dry," just six months after the state's wettest August on record that stemmed mainly from disastrous flooding by the remnants of Hurricane Irene. […]
Wildfires and brush fires have been common along the East Coast from New England to Florida in recent weeks because of wind and the unusual dryness. […]