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Lee provides drought relief to nearly half of La.

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Posted: Sep 24, 2011 2:39 PM
Source: Associated Press

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Topics: Tropical Storm Lee, drought, relief, half, Louisiana

BATON ROUGE- Tropical Storm Lee has brought some relief from a recent drought to just under half of Louisiana.

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, about 45 percent of the state - primarily along the track of Tropical Storm Lee along the eastern side of the state - is no longer considered in drought conditions. At the end of August, the entire state of Louisiana was listed in some form of drought.

"Lee took a big bite out of the drought in Louisiana," said state climatologist Barry Keim. "It produced that much rain."

At the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport, the rain gauge measured 8.81 inches of rain from Sept. 1 through Sept. 5 and the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport had 11.05 inches during that same period.

Some areas of the state got between 10 inches and 15 inches, Keim said. The rain fell over a matter of days instead of a few hours, allowing the rain to soak into the ground, he said.

Tropical Storm Lee helped some cattle farmers with extra hay they needed, but others were forced to sell their cattle, said Kurt Guidry, an agriculture economist with the LSU AgCenter. The storm was "too little, too late" for producers of row crops such as corn, soybean, and cotton, Guidry said.

"Most yields for row crops were already made by this time," Guidry said.

The respite could be temporary, Keim said. There hasn't been much rain since the storm, he said.

Keim also said a La Nina weather pattern has set up, although it's weak. That pattern usually means warmer and drier winters for Louisiana, Keim said.

So far this year, the state has received 31.1 inches of rain, which is below the normal rainfall by this point of 44.6 inches, Keim said.

"There's a good chance we'll move back into drought in Louisiana," he said.

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