Our partners the Mount Pleasant Patch have announced that Gov. Scott Walker announced Wednesday that he is declaring a drought emergency across the entire state.
Last week, Walker identified 42 counties that qualified for emergency status, but with abnormally dry and drought conditions now across most of the state, the governor has expanded the drought emergency status to the entire state.
“Wisconsin families, businesses and farmers are hurting as a result of this drought,” said Walker in a written release. “The increase in wildfires due to the combined lack of rain and high temperatures is adding to the risk of major economic losses, especially in agriculture. This is a time of crisis for many people, and we will utilize whatever resources are necessary to help.”
The federal government last week upgraded drought conditions in Southeast Wisconsin from “moderate” to “severe,” noting that temperatures have been seven to 13 degrees above normal.
With temperatures ranging from 7 to 13 degrees above normal, it was another week of enhanced evaporation rates (around 1.80 inches) across northeast Iowa, southeast Minnesota, and the southern half of Wisconsin.
Our media partners at FOX 6 News last week ran a story that stated Southeast Wisconsin is short not just rain, but snow, too. The mild winter with decreased snow fall started it, and the hotter, drier summer is just making things worse.
The rainshowers that swept through the area Friday and the thunderstorms that arrived Wednesday, while welcome, weren’t nearly enough.
So much rain do we need? According to Jeffrey Craven of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, we would need 12-16 inches of rain over three months to get the region back to normal precipitation.
Walker’s statewide order triggers a response from Wisconsin Emergency Management and all state agencies to assist in response and recovery. The emergency declaration also waives fees and makes it easier for farmers to divert water from streams and lakes as long as there’s no serious environmental concerns.
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