MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The drought gripping the United States
is the widest since 1956, according to new data released Monday by the
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
percent of the continental U.S. was in a moderate to extreme drought by
the end of June, NOAA's National Climactic Data Center in Asheville, N.C.,
said in its monthly State of the Climate drought report. That's the
largest percentage since December 1956, when 58 percent of the country was
covered by drought.
80 percent of the U.S. is abnormally dry, and the report said the drought
expanded in the West, Great Plains and Midwest last month with the 14th
warmest and 10th driest June on record.
corn and soybean belt has been especially hard hit over the past three
months, the report said. That region has experienced its seventh warmest
and 10th driest April-to-June period.
dried out and crops, pastures and rangeland have deteriorated at a rate
rarely seen in the last 18 years," the report said.
The report is
based on a data set going back to 1895 called the Palmer Drought Index,
which feeds into the widely watched and more detailed U.S. Drought
Monitor. It reported last week that 61 percent of the continental U.S. was
in a moderate to exceptional drought. However, the weekly Drought Monitor
goes back only 12 years, so climatologists use the Palmer Drought Index
for comparing droughts before 2000.
Illinois' Effingham County, Kenny Brummer is facing a double whammy — the
drought has savaged the 800 acres of corn he grows for his 400 head of
cattle and some 30,000 hogs, leaving him scrambling to find the couple of
hundred thousand bushels of feed he'll need.
"Where am I
going to get that from? You have concerns about it every morning when you
wake up," Brummer, 59, said Monday. "The drought is bad, but that's just
half of the problem on this farm."