July 17, 2012

Worst U.S. Drought in Half a Century.

In case you haven’t noticed, it’s dry and hot.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said in a report on Monday that 55 percent of the contiguous United States was under moderate to extreme drought in June. That’s the largest land area in the United States to be affected by a drought since December 1956.

Commodity Weather Group (CWG) said over half of the Midwest would continue with severe moisture deficits and plenty of heat, particularly in the western corn belt.

The drought is expanding north and west.

Frankly, I’m tired of it. Our neighborhood is loaded with creeks and they’re not flowing. They’re actually silent. And I’ve noticed on my morning walks and runs that the birds aren’t singing as happily.

But according to Don Keeney, meteorologist for MDA EarthSat Weather, hot and dry weather will remain the norm for the next two weeks in Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Minnesota, the Dakotas and southern Wisconsin.

This is not the time to be watering lawns (something I never do, but just sayin’).

Image: 350.org

Farmers are hurting. The drought and heat impacts not only the crops, but their livestock as well (more reason to support the small, local farmers!). And, P.S.—expect some stress on your wallet when shopping for food.

Here in Chicagoland, the temperature is heading back up to 100 degrees today. It was 77 degrees at 7 a.m. today. It’s supposed to “cool off” to the 80s and 90s by the weekend, but then the heat returns next week. Please remind me about this when I’m complaining in the dead of winter.

To find out the detailed drought conditions in your area, click on this map.

Click for larger interactive map.

Is this drought related to global warming?

This drought is not unprecedented. But in my opinion (based on various scientific sources, including this review paper by Aiguo Dai of the National Center for Atmospheric Research), the increase in man-made carbon dioxide in the atmosphere —-an accelerant to climate change—will lead to more frequent, longer and extreme droughts in the future. If you’re a climate change denier, I really hope you’re right.

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