Area in extreme drought increases by size of Texas, report says
The map, released Thursday, shows the intensity levels of the drought in all parts of the country.
July 26th, 2012
05:13 PM ET

Area in extreme drought increases by size of Texas, report says

The portion of the country with some level of drought increased only slightly in the last week, but areas at risk for major crop losses and widespread water shortages jumped significantly, according to a report from the National Drought Mitigation Center.

Areas of the contiguous United States under extreme or exceptional drought conditions increased by an area roughly the size of Texas - from 13.5% of the land to 20.5% - in the past seven days, according to the Drought Monitor report released Thursday.

"It's getting to the point where some of the (agricultural) damage is not reversible" in the extreme-drought areas, said Brian Fuchs, a climatologist at the center. "The damage is done, and even with rain, you're not going to reverse some of these problems, at least not this growing season."

The areas newly put into the extreme category are spread over many states, including parts of Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Kansas, Arkansas and South Dakota. (See last week's map, for comparison with the one above.)

Meanwhile, the portion of the Lower 48 states under moderate or worse drought conditions rose slightly in the last week - from 63.54% to 63.86% - putting the contiguous United States in the largest drought by area in the report's 12-year history. This is the fourth consecutive week the Lower 48 set a Drought Monitor record in this category.

A week of very hot and very dry conditions - coming after roughly two months of similar weather - pushed more areas into the extreme or exceptional categories, Fuchs said.

Areas in the "extreme" drought category - the third most severe of four classifications - could see major crop and pasture losses with widespread water shortages, according to the center.

The lower two drought classifications are called moderate (some damage to crops and pastures possible, with some water shortages developing or imminent) and severe (crop or pasture losses likely, with water shortages common).

The highest classification, exceptional, means the area is at risk for widespread crop and pasture losses, with water emergencies.

Unrelenting heat and little to no rainfall across the nation’s heartland are making conditions difficult to overcome. Every state in the country, plus Puerto Rico, has at least a small area shown as abnormally dry or worse, Fuchs said.

Many of the areas that saw the drought intensify in the past week make up the country's corn and soybean belt - disheartening news for those that have already been tremendously affected.

Almost 90% of U.S. corn is grown in an area experiencing drought, and even recent and forecast rainfall will be too late to significantly help this year’s crop. Agriculture Department Secretary Tom Vilsack this week designated 76 additional counties in six states as drought disaster areas, bringing the total for the 2012 crop year to 1,369 counties across 31 states.

He also announced Monday that his department will cut the interest rates on emergency loans for farmers hard-hit by the drought to 2.25% from 3.75%.

On Thursday, Iowa's governor declared a disaster emergency to help farmers deal with the drought.

"The assistance comes in the form of a suspension of state laws and regulations affecting the transport of hay, straw and stover," a release from Gov. Terry Branstad said. "The drought has destroyed or depleted sources of these products that are necessary for livestock production and feed."

It’s not just crops that are suffering from the heat and lack of rainfall. A July 22 report from the Department of Agriculture said that 55% of the country’s pasture and range land was in poor to very poor condition. This is the highest percentage ever noted and is likely to profoundly hurt the nation’s cattle and dairy farmers.

Reports like this could continue, because U.S. forecasts don't offer any reprieve over the next several weeks. A persistent ridge of high pressure over portions of the country has sent the mercury to record levels over recent weeks and months. St. Louis has now seen a record 11 days with high temperatures reaching or exceeding 105 degrees this year, breaking the previous record of 10 days set in 1934, another year of historic heat and drought across the U.S.

Heat records like this will likely continue to fall. Above-normal temperatures are expected to continue through the beginning of August for much of the country, including the Great Plains.

The Drought Monitor map is jointly produced by the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and about 350 drought observers across the country.

More on the drought:

Feds offer help to drought-stricken farmers
Farmer in the drought – if you plant it, it might not come
Farmer: 'If you eat, this drought will affect you'
Praying for rain in the Arkansas drought
From the field – tweets from #drought12
How the drought could hit your wallet
Opinion: Why the drought affects me - and you
Hogs feel drought's pinch
Drought forces farmers to sell cattle 


soundoff (234 Responses)
  1. Prisons R US

    @HIDE BEHIND. DHS has built 160 Homeland Security Prisons since 2003. Called 'Fatherland Security Prisons' in pre-WWII Nazi Germany, these prisons must be guarded by well-armed domestic troops just like Germany's were.
    Interestingly, the Waffen SS were given strict written orders by Adolph Hitler on just who should be thrown into these prisons. At the top of the list was "Workshy individuals". (jews were #3 on Hitlers list, in case you were wondering)
    I see DHS following the same pattern, and Americans pretending to be ignorant and innocent of concentration camps just as German citizens did and do.
    "Everyone knew about the camps."-Oscar Schindler (refering to the fact that most-all citizens were well aware what the camps were for but kept quiet about it and pretended they were for "the terrorists" Hitler claimed burned down the Reichstag.

    July 26, 2012 at 9:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      And your point is?

      July 26, 2012 at 9:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • cedar rapids


      July 27, 2012 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
  2. Are you there PHILLIP

    Hello PHILLIP can you see me now i hope this is better now where were we haaaa oh thats right ive been blocked but theres always a way around it is there not PHILLIP oh i forgot to say question to you ha PHILLIP ok lets start over how is your soul today PHILLIP is it good standing PHILLIP how about you do this for me i can make a promise to you PHILLIP you briing me 120,000 souls and you will break even ok i will let the rest of th good go deal ok just call me like you did earlier cant wait to hear from you again PHILLIP until then,,,,,,,,

    July 26, 2012 at 9:28 pm | Report abuse |
  3. nolongerarepublican

    Yea, this beats saying that other states are no longer in drought status.

    July 26, 2012 at 9:32 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Sagittariuslady

    OK, it's the end of the day and I am tired but what does the previous comment have to do with the story about drought? By the way to the states affected, if we could send the thunderstorms we here in south Louisiana have been getting daily for weeks, we would do it in a heartbeat!!!

    July 26, 2012 at 9:35 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Are you there PHILLIP

    Stupid oh i see ive been picked on that just lets me know that i finally have followers how enchanting this is is that word supposed to be able to make me feel bad or is it something else if people tear me apart then thats a good sign is it not of course im not stupid im free to do what ever i want you see im not locked up in a dieing rotting body such as you PHILLIP you know that as soon as your born PHILLIP your dying i never had a body so i can never die i can never disease i can never be imperfect because im the part of the plan of free agency and with out me all would be perfect then if thats the case PHILLIP then what would be the purpose of life right PHILLIP it all makes sense now doesnt it free agency phillip just think about for a minute PHILLIP you have it everybody has it now what is a better gift then to be able to excercise free agency PHILLIP please answer PHILLIP

    July 26, 2012 at 9:36 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Sagittariuslady

    OK, it's the end of the day and I am tired but what does the comment about the prisons and concentration camps have to do with the story about drought? By the way to the states affected, if we could send the thunderstorms we here in south Louisiana have been getting daily for weeks, we would do it in a heartbeat!!!

    July 26, 2012 at 9:39 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Are you there PHILLIP

    You seem to forget i CANNOT DIE im immortal phillip i was never born i was created by the same that created you PHILLIP

    July 26, 2012 at 9:40 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Philip (Prisons R US)

    I was just trying to explain where the funds actually WENT, not "going".
    I started with the obvious parallel between naziism and corporate fascism.
    I was planning on explaining the 40 trillion dollars worth of [then] secret underground military installations built during the so-called "War on Cold"...errr, "Cold War" (the scientific community gave-up trying to find a cure for the common cold about 30 years ago after spending trillions of tax dollars)...but decided to go straight to the 1941 BMW J38 Flying Saucer found crashed near Area 51 by the Air Force and FBIand a farmer in 1947, "manned" by 4 jewish women genetically altered to look like aliens at Bayer AGs corporate concentration camp.
    on the sides of this 80,000 lb. saucer w/12 jet engines is this inscription: "Army of Women". (ewwww. he he 🙂

    July 26, 2012 at 10:05 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Are you there PHILLIP

    They were both with me at the time remember i love sin so you have to do better than that come on now its got to be tougher i was there in the back seat i helped out

    July 26, 2012 at 10:05 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Are you there PHILLIP

    Im still waiting i have a lot of soldiers so i have all the time in the world ahhhh the world its is full of people trying to become just like me PHILLIP

    July 26, 2012 at 10:08 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Linda

    Global many denied it and thus did not prepare for it? Looks like a lot of people in the USA are going to go broke and starve due to this drought. So what are we as a nation going to do ..... complain? Does Congess have a plan for a food shortage in this country? Where is the committee to study the problem? I always love all the Congressional committees. Are the Conservative Christians going to start praying for us? We surely need a heavenly miracle as man can not solve this problem.

    July 26, 2012 at 10:10 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Philip (Prisons R US)

    @HIDE BEHIND....don't you see bro? The trillions of dollars that have been invested continuing the programs started by nazis? From Nazi Bayer AGs Viral Cancer research project captured and coninued by the same men here in the US w/congressional funding, to the V-2 rocket that IS the foundation NASA rocket science was establihed upon. HUNDREDS of examples...THOUSANDS of nazis captured and brought back...machinists, scientists, name it, Germans built it better and w/much higher technology.
    The entire middle east scenario is a fabrication to distract you from the above.(and help fund corporate fascist underground war machine currently under construction by selling corp. fascist owned Caspian Basin oil to China via captured Afghan pipelines.)

    July 26, 2012 at 10:19 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Superman

    Ive been storing up freeze dried food for sometime it stays very good fo a long time i just rotate it for usage when im climbing and whatever else plus it is the organic kind good food its better then going hungry in the long run i have enough to feed 4 people for two months and end up giving some of it away but prepardness is vital this drought was bound to happen some day

    July 26, 2012 at 10:19 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Philip (Prisons R US)

    Ok, "gobo warm warm" is the topic then.
    Global CLIMATE change is ALL natural. What puny little greedy men have done is pollute earths atmosphere, giving shade over water. (evaporating water is the engine that drives the WEATHER, not the climate)
    For over 100 years citizens around the world have been measuring EXACTLY how long it takes water to evaporate. (pan-evap rate) Each year it takes water longer to evaporate. Rain that used to fall on Colorado might fall on the Pacific Ocean, for example.
    ALL our pollution has done is take a naturally slow and mild climate change And turned it into one with violent weather extremes.
    As all christians believe, the purpose of the earth was originally to be a garden of eden like home for men of good will.
    NOTHING can stop the earth from being just that. But it's a bumpy road from here to there, filled with manmade obstacles.

    July 26, 2012 at 10:29 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Superman

    Hey there bud hows it going today im all done here in wichita or should i say west of ta so whats up

    July 26, 2012 at 10:44 pm | Report abuse |
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