This year's drought now the largest of the 21st century in the United States

As of this week the Drought of 2012 that is gripping over half the country has set a new benchmark when it comes to drought in the 21st century. The U.S. Drought Monitor, which measures drought across the country was first founded in 2000. Before this week the largest extent of some kind of drought across the lower 48 states was 54.79% back in August of 2003. That is until now…

The new drought status for July 3rd shows an impressive 55.96% being impacted by some kind of drought. That is the largest extent since the U.S. Drought Monitor began back in 2000. The drought has actually spread a good amount since the previous week’s report. Then, around 51% of the country was impacted by drought. No doubt last week’s heat wave has aided the spread and even intensification of the drought in several areas. Below is a look at the current drought status as of July 3rd.

Two-thirds of the populations based on this graphic either are under some kind of drought or are experiencing abnormally dry conditions like what we’re seeing around La Crosse. You can see the expansive area of extreme drought in Colorado. This has been one of the big reasons for such a horrible year for wildfires in the state.

The spread of the drought has been relatively quick in the past three or four months. Check out the two images below. The first is the drought status from back on March 6th of this year. Notice much of the Mississippi and Ohio River Valleys along with the Northeast are normal. You’ll also notice a pretty bad drought situation in Minnesota and abnormally dry conditions in Wisconsin. For us the past few months have helped the drought situation for us and our friends in Minnesota. That can be seen in the second image, which is the most recent drought status. What’s most obvious is a large spread in the extent of the drought across the country. Mostly in places that were fine back in March.

MARCH 6TH, 2012

JULY 3rd, 2012

Locally, there is no drought anywhere in Western Wisconsin. However, abnormally dry conditions have been spreading and getting worse in the Coulee Region. You folks have been missing out on a lot of rain that has been impacting areas farther north. With little rain at all expected in the coming week in Western Wisconsin, we’ll have to see if this area worsens or the abnormally dry conditions spread.

Some scientists have made some comparisons to the Dust Bowl years with what we are seeing this year with the large area of drought and the big heat wave that had been baking much of the country. The drought situation isn’t looking good as we head into the future. Below is a drought forecast from the U.S. Drought Monitor. You can see persistence in a lot of areas and even some development in places like western Iowa and eastern Nebraska. Some places though will be fortunate enough to see some improvement. The drought situation looks to continue to be an issue as we keep chugging along through 2012.

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