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Measuring Drought Damage

As the drought in the Mid-Atlantic States continues with no signs of letting up, some experts say this may be the worst the northeast has seen in 30 years.

Dr. Robert Livezey, of the Climate Prediction Center, told CBS This Morning's Mark McEwen that there is no real relief in sight.

"Unfortunately, we donÂ't really see much," Livezey said. "Perhaps the latter part of next week, the Mid-Atlantic States will have a chance. Now, we donÂ't see anything."

Livezey said of the two types of drought — Agricultural and Hydrological — he is focusing on the Agricultural, measuring the drought's impact on crops and things that grow.

When focusing on Hydrological Droughts, Livezey measures impacts and water tables, stream flows and reservoir supplies — the more serious of the two for the general public.

"This is an important major event, very serious event," Livezey said. "In the context of historical record in the Mid-Atlantic States, itÂ's got to rank among the top three droughts."


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Livezey said he monitors various drought charts and indices, like the Palmer Drought Index, which gives a good idea of what the rainfall situationÂ's been over several months.

"The areas shaded in bright red are the trouble areas," Livezey said. "And on all these charts, the Mid-Atlantic States all show up red."

Livezey said it would take a number of soaking storms, some substantial rainfall or some major precipitation events to get the red off the map.


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He also monitors the Crop Moisture Index, which indicates how much moisture there is in the upper levels of the soil.

"It is what the farmers look at and worry about in terms of the water supply for crops," Livezey said. "Again, look at the Mid-Atlantic States. YouÂ'll see bright red colors."

Livezey said he also tracks the Stream Flow Data chart, which indicates at what level the stream and river flows are.


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"Right now, there are all-time record low levels being set at a number of river basins and streams in the mid-Atlantic and northeast," Livezey said.

Livezey said a tropical storm making its way up the East Coast would certainly help ease the drought.

"A decaying tropical system, if we didnÂ't have associaed flood problems or other coastal damage would be the kind of soaking rain that we could use," Livezey explained.

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