While the heat wave took America by storm, a renowned climate agency reported saying the US drought is the biggest since 1956.
According to CNN, the National Climatic Data Center reported on Monday that the US is experiencing the largest drought it has had since the 1950s. In the NCDC report, nearly 55 percent of the country was experiencing a moderate drought throughout the month of June. The drought was the first one since December 1956, where 58 percent of the country was experiencing extreme drought.
The extreme heat in June that contributed to the heat wave throughout the East Coast of the US ranked the third-driest month nationally in at least 118 years according to the center’s report.
According to Illinois Governor Pat Quin, the heat wave was a “natural disaster of epic proportions. We’ve never see a drought like this and we have to make sure we do something about it.” Quin pleaded with Congress to pass the Farmers Bill, as it would provide relief to farmers affected by the drought. The governor mentioned that in addition to the 26 counties already on the list of disaster areas in his state, 7 more will be designated by Monday.
Using data from the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska, the NCDC said that overall, 71 percent of the country was classified as abnormally dry or worse as of June, which more than doubled compared to a year ago.
While the heat wave and drought physically affected everyone, it had dire effects on agriculture. According to the US Department of Agriculture, 38% of the corn planted in the leading 18-corn producing states reported in poor or very poor conditions this week. Moreover, in certain states like Arkansas where they are experiencing the driest months since 1925, ranchers have been selling off cattle to avoid having to feed and water them. According to spokesman for the Arkansas Department of Agriculture, Zach Taylor states, “The week of July 4, we had 17,000 head of cattle sold. That may be a record.”
Another worry by officials is the water levels as the water level in the Mississippi River is becoming so low that salt may be working its way up river which could taint some of the fresh water supplies. However, the US Army Corps of Engineers is already prepared for such as situation as they can build an underwater barrier to stop the denser salt water from moving upstream.
The most poignant issue is the crops according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, as the agency stated, “Crop yields in some areas dropped as much as 50%. Excessive temperatures and low rainfall scorched grasslands typically used for grazing. With grass scarce, hay prices became too costly, forcing some ranchers to feed their cattle a mixture of prickly pear cactus and molasses.”
Climate Agency Says US Drought is the Biggest Since 1956.