||Although August rainfall deficits across the majority of the 24-county area were not as extreme as those in July, below normal rain was still the main story, plunging South Central Nebraska even deeper into the worst drought in several decades. According to weekly issuances of the U.S. Drought Monitor throughout the month, category D3 extreme drought remained in place across most of the area and expanded farther east into all or part of York, Clay, Fillmore, Nuckolls and Thayer Counties. However, the worst conditions as indicated by category D4 exceptional drought continued to focus north of Interstate 80, gripping much of Valley, Greeley, Sherman and Howard Counties along with small slivers of Nance and Dawson Counties. The only limited part of the area to hold onto category D2 severe drought throughout the month included southern portions of Nuckolls and Thayer Counties. Focusing on August rainfall, the majority of South Central Nebraska tallied between 1.00 and 2.25 inches, or generally between 25-60 percent of normal. On the drier side of things, a few of the lowest monthly amounts per NWS cooperative observers including 0.27 near Orleans, 0.44 at Cambridge and 0.52 near St. Paul. The monthly total of 0.94 at Central Nebraska Regional Airport in Grand Island marked the 10th-driest August on record out of 117 years. In contrast, a few of the most fortunate sites included Cozad (3.54), Osceola (2.71), Holdrege (2.44) and Hastings airport (2.39). Over the longer-term period spanning June 1st-August 15th, rainfall in South Central Nebraska averaged only 10-30 percent of normal for most places north of Interstate 80, and 40-70 percent of normal for most areas between I-80 and the Kansas border. Area rivers continued to reflect significant drought impacts in August as well, including the Platte which remained essentially dry from near Grand Island downstream to Columbus. Following a notably hot June and especially July, there was some good news temperature-wise during August as the mean monthly temperature across most of the area checked in within 1 degree of normal. The drought situation by late-summer reflected a sharp downward spiral since early June when the entire area was still free of all drought categories. Looking back a few months, although some areas near the Kansas border and also west of Highway 281 started to dry out quite a bit in May, drought conditions really took hold during June and especially July as total rainfall for these two months registered only 10-50 percent of normal across most of the area. Furthermore, average maximum temperatures for the combined months of June and July registered at least 6-8 degrees above normal, essentially baking moisture-starved maturing crops. As of August 8th, the USDA had designated 22 of the 24 counties as primary counties in a federal drought disaster area. For the week ending August 12th, the Nebraska Weather and Crops Report from the USDA indicated that crop conditions continued to decline, with many corn fields being chopped for silage or baled for hay. State-averaged topsoil and subsoil moisture continued to run 96 percent short to very short. Poor to very poor crop conditions were reported as 41 percent for corn, 46 percent for soybeans and 68 percent for alfalfa. Pasture and range conditions rated 92 percent poor to very poor.