The drought gripping much of the nation is "exceptional" — the most severe classification — in an area covering 6.26 percent of the lower 48 states, according to the latest data from the National Drought Mitigation Center.
Key differences in the ratings from the National Drought Mitigation Center:
— Abnormally dry: "Going into drought."
— Moderate drought: "Some damage to crops."
— Severe drought: "Crop or pasture losses likely."
— Extreme drought: "Major crop/pasture losses."
— Exceptional drought: "Exceptional and widespread crop/pasture losses."
That's up from 4.21 percent the week before.
The center's latest map shows increases in size of the areas in Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Missouri that are experiencing exceptional drought conditions.
Meanwhile, there were slight — less than 1 percent point — changes in the sizes of areas suffering the less severe classifications: extreme, severe, moderate and abnormally dry (in descending order). And the amount of land where there are no dry conditions edged up to 22.32 percent from 21.86 percent last week.
The 2012 Drought
The area of the nation suffering from "exceptional" drought conditions (the darkest shading) grew again this week. Click to compare the map to last week's.