Record September Temperatures Extend Southeast Drought

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Source: Environment News Service (ENS)

ASHEVILLE, North Carolina, October 17, 2007 (ENS) - Temperatures in September 2007 were the eighth warmest on record, hot enough to break 1,000 daily high records across the United States, say scientists at NOAA's National Climatic Data Center in Asheville.

The global surface temperature was the fifth warmest on record for September, and the extent of Arctic Sea ice reached its lowest amount in September since satellite measurements began in 1979, shattering the previous record low set in 2005.

The heat extended the worsening drought to almost half of the contiguous United States, with the Southeast, Mid-Atlantic and Tennessee Valley experiencing the driest conditions. Thirty-eight of the 48 contiguous states were warmer than average, and no state was cooler than average for the month.

Temperatures at the Raleigh-Durham International Airport reached a high of 101 degrees F (38 degrees C) on September 10, the latest date in any calendar year with a maximum daily temperature greater than 100 degrees since recordkeeping began in 1944.

Drought affected 78 percent of the Southeast, with almost one-quarter of the region affected by exceptional drought conditions, the highest stage of drought, according to the federal U.S. Drought Monitor.

North Carolina Farm Bureau President Larry Wooten said the drought is having a tremendous impact on the state's people and agricultural industry. 'This is especially true for the livestock industry,' he said. 'There is, and will be, huge shortages of forage feeds to get cattle, horses, sheep and goats through the winter.'

Reports from farmers indicate that the state's hay shortage could be as high as 800,000 round bales, forcing farmers to seek other options for feeding cattle through the winter. Farmers whose corn and soybean crops were damaged by the drought have offered to help livestock producers by baling and selling their crops for animal feed.

The North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has requested funds to aid in the transportation of hay, both from within and outside the state, to producers in North Carolina.

In response, last week, the North Carolina Farm Bureau Insurance donated $10,000 to help the drought-stricken farmers.

Duke Energy Corp. and West Brothers Transportation Services Inc. are donating trucking services to help cattle farmers cope with the hay shortage, Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler announced today.

The companies volunteered to haul loads of baled cornstalks from eastern North Carolina farms to western counties over the next four to five weeks. The bales will be sold to farmers on a first-come, first-served basis.

'We are extremely happy that Duke Energy and West Brothers Transportation have stepped up to help farmers cope with the drought,' Troxler said. 'One of the challenges we're facing is the cost of transporting hay and alternative feeds to livestock producers across the state. Fortunately, these companies care enough to donate their resources and time to making a difference for our farmers.'

Earlier this year, the state Environmental Management Commission adopted the North Carolina Water Conservation Rule. Part of the rule requires farmers who use more than one million gallons of water per day for any one day during the year to prepare a water conservation management plan and to implement the plan when a drought is declared in their area.

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