Water, water … nowhere?

Photo courtesy of shutterstock.

With the hottest months of the year just around the corner, the threat of drought looms over the country, with many areas still recovering from last year’s dry spell. Conservative estimates report that hundreds of thousands of trees fell victim to last year’s drought, following an unfortunate trend of exceptionally dry weather over the past few summers. A Texas A&M Forest Service survey showed that roughly 301 million trees were killed by the devastating drought of 2011. According to scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), it looks like last summer’s near-record drought conditions may be occurring again this year. In a climate update issued early this year, NOAA (www.ncdc.noaa.gov) reported that 54.2 percent of the contiguous United States were experiencing drought conditions, compared to 39 percent at the same time last year. South Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska and Montana were battling severe and extreme drought , and it was expected that the already drought-ravaged areas of Texas, Oklahoma and the Pacific Northwest will likely get less rainfall this year than they did last year. Though the outlook is not so promising, we are still a few weeks off from the peak of the summer season, so the possibility remains that Mother Nature might spare us from another record-breaking drought. Fingers crossed. For updates on current drought conditions, visit http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/.

Summer safety

While we’re on the topic of sweltering summer weather, let me present my annual reminder about staying safe when the temps are high. Heat-related illnesses can come on very quickly and have devastating effects if not addressed immediately. While it sounds like common sense, the simple steps necessary to staying safe when working in the heat can slip your mind when you’re focused on getting a job done. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. And when you think you’ve consumed enough water for the day, have some more. Wear light clothes, slather on the sunscreen, stay in the shade when possible, and if you feel like you need a break, take one. Next month we’ll have a special feature on summer safety for you and your crew, so be sure to check it out. Hope you all have a safe and profitable summer!

Katie Meyers