OREGON COUNTY -- Despite more than two inches of rain this month, drought conditions across southern Missouri and the entire state are worsening.
The Missouri Drought Commission is responsible for assessing drought conditions across the state and recommending actions to ease the droughts adverse effects. Agencies represented on the commission include the state departments of Natural Resources, Agriculture, Public Safety, Health and Senior Services, Conservation and Economic Development.
When drought conditions worsen the commission places the counties in the state in four categories. As of last week 30 counties have progressed to the drought conservation phase, or phase three. Another 35 counties, including Oregon County, are under a drought alert, which is phase two, and 40 are under a drought advisory which falls into phase one. There are nine counties in the state that have been placed on the no drought list.
Surrounding counties such as Howell and Shannon have also been placed in phase two. As of press time no counties have been placed in phase four, which is the emergency phase.
Drought Assessment Commission officials said prolonged dry weather over much of the state has expanded the overall area of drought in Missouri.
Rainfall deficits in parts of the state exceed eight inches over the last three months, with much of the shortfall coming within the last three months.
The commission assessed the Springfield to Hannibal area as being the hardest hit. Even though southern Missouri counties such as Oregon benefited from rainfall after Hurricane Dennis, more rain is needed to prevent a worsening of conditions here.
In the phase two plants will begin to show stress, stream levels drop and rainfall is below normal for many months. Pond levels will begin to noticeably fall.
Commission members said all of the above conditions have been observed in Oregon County.