HASTINGS, NE — Weather officials say drought conditions are worsening after one of the driest August’s on record in Central Nebraska.

The National Weather Service Hastings Office says Kearney received just 0.13 inches of rain in August, setting a new record low. Grand Island experienced its second-driest August with just 0.45 inches and Hastings had its fifth-driest August with 0.46 inches of rain. Those totals are nearly three inches less than the normal amount of August rain in the Tri-Cities.

The extremely dry conditions caused the U.S. Drought Monitor to downgrade most of the region by one level. The Tri-Cities are now listed in a severe drought, while parts of Howard, Merrick and Nance counties are in an extreme drought - the second-worst rating available. The monitor says severe drought conditions mean crop or pasture loss is likely, fire risk is very high, water shortages are common and water restrictions could be imposed. 

The Tri-Cities are each listed as having registered between 61% and 68% of the normal amount of rain for this point in the year.

The region did get rain on Aug. 31, but it fell after the NWS recording cutoff and will be counted for September precipitation.