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Drought forecast to linger, spread in Plains, West

In this July 2012 phosun rises over struggling drought hestressed corn Pleasant Plains Ill. Despite U.S. enduring its worst drought

In this July, 2012 photo, the sun rises over struggling drought and heat stressed corn in Pleasant Plains, Ill. Despite the U.S. enduring its worst drought in decades, a The U.S. Department of Agriculture report to be issued on Friday, Jan. 11, 2013 is expected to show a harvest that's smaller nationally but still surprisingly strong considering the lingering drought. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)

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OMAHA, Neb. — Climate experts say the drought affecting more than half of the nation will persist in the Great Plains and West through the spring and spread over more of California, Texas and Florida.

Experts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center and the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln released their latest predictions Thursday.

Currently, 56 percent of the continental U.S. is covered by a drought in one of the three worst stages. That’s an improvement from last summer, when the drought covered two-thirds of the nation.

But the February-through-May drought forecast predicts conditions will worsen this spring.

And NOAA climatologist Dan Collins says below-average precipitation is expected this spring in most Western states and the southeastern United States.



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