The National Weather Service says this year's drought will likely hang on until at least the start of 2012.
Some forecasts in late summer had the drought weakening in the fall months, but a pair of reports in the past couple days cast doubt on that optimism. The U.S. Drought Monitor's weekly report, released Thursday, showed conditions took a sharp turn for the worse in Iowa.
Now the seasonal drought outlook suggests the drought will persist through December 31.
The map shows most of the United States west of the Mississippi River will see drought conditions "persist or intensify. The northwestern corner of the U.S. will see drought develop, forecasters believe.
Some of the areas hit hard by this year's drought will see improvement, though not necessarily the end of drought conditions. Forecasters predict much of Missouri, Illinois and Indiana will see improvement by at least one category as defined by the U.S. Drought Monitor.
The Climate Prediction Center says it has high confidence in its prediction for the northern and central great plains as well as the upper Mississippi River valley, and that the forecast models favor the drought's persistence.