More than half of the United States remains in drought, although things have improved from the record-breaking conditions last year that killed 123 and caused at least $35 billion in economic losses, including crop failure and livestock deaths.
At one point in September 2012, two-thirds of the continental United States was suffering from record-breaking drought conditions so severe they restricted navigation on portions of the Mississippi River.
About 55 percent of the nation remains in drought conditions, though the outlook for 2013 isn't quite as grim as last year. But drought is expected to persist in the Great Plains and part of the West and could extend into more of California and Florida, said forecasters with the National Integrated Drought Information System as they released a seasonal drought outlook for the nation.
There are "very poor" conditions in the snowpack that feeds river systems in the Great Plains, said Mike Strobel of the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service. Reservoirs in Colorado already are low because of last year's drought.
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