Drought in US Intensifying to 'Historic Proportions'

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Common Dreams

Drought in US Intensifying to 'Historic Proportions'

by
Common Dreams staff

The drought in the U.S. is intensifying and shows little signs of abating, according the most recent Drought Monitor issued Thursday.

The data from the Drought Monitor show the intensification of the drought over the past week.  While the amount of the contiguous U.S. hit by drought remained at near 64%, the area hit by severe or greater drought went from about 42% to 46%. In the past week, the areas suffering extreme or exceptional drought jumped from 13.5% to almost 21%.

“We’ve seen tremendous intensification of drought through Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Indiana, Arkansas, Kansa and Nebraska, and into part of Wyoming and South Dakota in the last week,” said Brian Fuchs, a climatologist and U.S. Drought Monitor author.

“This drought is two-pronged,” Fuchs added. “Not only the dryness but the heat is playing a big and important role. Even areas that have picked up rain are still suffering because of the heat.”

Describing the hot, parched area from the Great Plains to the Midwest, Drought Monitor author Richard Heim of the NOAA reports, "Temperatures reached 100 degrees Fahrenheit or hotter across parts of the Great Plains to Midwest every day this week, and some locations have not had significant rain for the last 30 days.  July 22 USDA statistics indicated over 90 percent of the topsoil was short or very short of moisture in Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio, with virtually all (99 percent) short or very short in Missouri and Illinois.  Over 80 percent of the pasture and rangeland was in poor or very poor condition in Kansas, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana.  Corn, Soybean, Sorghum, and Alfalfa losses continued to mount, ponds dried up, and wells failed in several of the states."

Dr. Jeff Masters writes on WunderBlog: "These are truly historic levels of drought, exceeded only during the great Dust Bowl drought of the 1930s and a severe drought in the mid-1950s."

According to Masters, July 2012 now ranks second on a list of months with the greatest percent area in moderate or greater drought since 1895.

Relief appears to be nowhere in sight.  “Conditions are likely to persist,” Fuchs said. “We’ll see further development and intensification into the fall.”

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