||This area north of Interstate 80, including most of Valley, Greeley, Sherman and Howard Counties along with far western Nance County started out July in category D1 moderate drought according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, but by month's end had drastically degraded to category D4 exceptional drought for the first time since at least 2002. As of July 31st, all counties were either a primary or contiguous county in a federally-declared drought disaster area. This incredibly rapid onset of exceptional flash drought marked a downward spiral in drought conditions since early June, when the entire area was still free of all drought categories. In fact, precipitation during both April and May was slightly above normal across most of this area, including two-month totals of 7.55 at Ord and 6.83 at Greeley. However, a dramatic decrease in rainfall ensued during June and July with most of the area totaling less than 1 for the two months combined! Serving as one of many examples, the combined June-July rainfall total of 0.48 at the Ord airport was merely 7 percent of the normal amount of 7.09, and was by far the driest June-July period on record. Other paltry June-July rainfall totals within the area included 0.38 at St. Paul, 0.62 at Greeley and 0.89 at Belgrade. Focusing solely on July, several places recorded no measurable rain during the month, including at Belgrade and near Dannebrog. As though the lack of rain was not enough to hasten the onset of drought, average daily high temperatures for the combined months of June and July registered at least 5-8 degrees above normal, essentially baking moisture-starved maturing crops. In Ord, the average June-July daily high temperature was 92.6 degrees, or 8.3 degrees hotter than the 30-year normal. In July, Ord reached at least 100 degrees on 10 days. For the week ending July 29th, the Nebraska Weather and Crops Report from the USDA indicated that some corn was being chopped for silage or cut for hay to compensate for poor pasture conditions. In addition, state-averaged topsoil and subsoil moisture was indicated as 96 percent short to very short. Poor to very poor crop conditions were reported as 37 percent for corn, 38 percent for soybeans and 69 percent for alfalfa, and pasture and range conditions were rated as 83 percent poor to very poor.