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Historic Drought Strikes Mississippi, 98% of State Affected

Brown dying trees and ground cover growth due to drought
Dying trees like these on 38th Avenue in Hattiesburg, Miss., are just some of the casualties of the historic dry spell that hit Mississippi during August and September 2023. Photo by Ashton Pittman

Mississippi is on track to have one of its driest years on record, with 98% of the Magnolia State currently experiencing drought conditions ranging from abnormal to exceptional as of Sept. 19, the U.S. Drought Monitor says.

Some regions of the state experienced light rains for the first time in weeks on Monday and Tuesday, but dry conditions mostly persist. The development of extreme drought conditions follows what officials have deemed the hottest summer on record.

“The summer of 2023 was Earth’s hottest since global records began in 1880, according to an analysis by scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies (GISS) in New York,” a Sept. 14 NASA press release said.

Farmers affected by the drought can seek assistance from the USDA through the Livestock Forage Disaster Program, the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce says.

The drought has also affected the Mississippi River, bringing it to record laws and impacting drinking water in lower regions of Louisiana as the low levels have allowed saltwater from the Gulf of Mexico to intrude upriver. Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards has requested a federal emergency declaration in his state.

A year ago at the same time, just 16% of Mississippi was experiencing drought conditions.

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