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Walter Prescott Webb wrote in 1953

“Droughts are unlike other natural disasters. They creep in slowly, with no need for dramatic services of the Red Cross, martial law or the state police. And in the end everybody loses.” —Walter Prescott Webb, 1953

The latest forecast for December through February calls for above normal temperatures in the southern part of the plains this winter, Lipes said.

Agricultural losses due to drought have reached more than $5 billion in Texas and $2 billion in both Oklahoma and Kansas. By the end of September, 97 percent of Texas was in either exceptional or extreme drought. The entire state of Oklahoma is currently in at least severe drought, with 66 percent of the state at either the D4 level or exceptional drought, the worst of the drought ratings.

What will it take to get us out of this dry period? Lipe said the rainfall defi cits over the region are so great that it is hard to imagine signifi cantly eliminating the drought’s impact on lakes and reservoirs in the short term.

“Only time will tell how this drought ends up comparing to the 1950s or other signifi cant droughts, however, this will

likely go down as the driest year on record for the region and a large portion of Texas since records were kept begin- ning in 1895,” Lipe said. “With the current developing La Niña, which typically leads to a drier than normal winter, the likelihood of the drought ending before next spring seems very low.”

Perhaps we can draw from the att itudes and perseverance of the generation that weathered the drought of record. While the ‘50s were tough, the people were tougher.

“I did not sense despair or gloom,” Hutchison said, de- scribing the morale of his family and their farming neigh- bors during the ‘50s. “They seemed determined to grind it out. You have to remember the young adults of the 1950s had grown up during the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl in the 1930s and then went through a world war. These were tough people who were doing without much just one more time.”

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10 SORGHUM Grower Fall 2011

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