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US Drought Disaster Worst In Over 50 Years

Forecast: More Heat, More Drought

- Common Dreams staff

Boats sit on the bottom in a dry cove at Morse Reservoir in Noblesville, Ind., July 16, 2012. (AP Photo)

The 2012 drought disaster is now the largest in over 50 years, and among the ten largest of the past century, according to a new report released by the National Climatic Data Center today.

The current drought actually covers more area than the famous 1936 drought, though other droughts in the Dust Bowl years – particularly the extreme drought of 1934 – still rank higher.

CBS News reports:

For the first time, government scientists are saying recent extreme weather events are likely connected to man-made climate change. It’s the conclusion of a report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The report says last year’s record drought in Texas was made “roughly 20 times more likely” because of man made climate change, specifically meaning warming that comes from greenhouse gasses like carbon dioxide. The study, requested by NOAA, looked at 50 years of weather data in Texas and concluded that man-made warming had to be a factor in the drought.

The head of NOAA’s climate office, Tom Karl, said: “What we’re seeing, not only in Texas but in other phenomena in other parts of the world, where we can’t explain these events by natural variability alone. They’re just too rare, too uncommon.”

And with July typically being the hottest month of the year, it may get much worse before it gets better.

Among the top ten largest "severe" droughts on record, five of them peaked in the months of July and August.

The latest weather forecasts call for the drought afflicting the U.S. Midwest to worsen, taking a bigger toll on the country's massive corn and soybean crops, meteorologists said on Monday.

Now, more than 1,100 farmers in Nebraska have been ordered by the state's Department of Natural Resources to halt irrigation of their crops because the rivers from which they draw water have dropped due to a worsening drought.

The orders come as the central United States bakes under the worst drought in a half a century which has parched corn and soybean crops and sent prices of both commodities to near-record highs.

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