‘Exceptional’ Drought Conditions Expand In The U.S., Likely Persisting Through February

The stubborn U.S. drought that hit the Southeast and Midwest hard this summer isn’t letting up. According to the latest drought monitor, conditions have worsened slightly across the country, with “exceptional drought” conditions expanding from 38 percent of the lower-48 states to 42 percent. Those conditions could last into February.

The map below, which shows a wide swath of “extreme” and “exceptional” drought, has become a very familiar image over the last nine months:

The U.S. drought could be the most costly extreme weather event to hit the U.S. this year. In a 2012 marked by above-average wildfires in the West, record heat waves across most of the country, a massive superstorm that rocked the East Coast, and a surprise derecho that knocked out power to millions of Americans, that’s saying a lot. Jeff Masters at the Weather Underground reports that the drought could cost the economy between $75 billion to $150 billion, making it more expensive than Superstorm Sandy.

“The drought that we are currently experiencing is consistent with an observed warmer climate,” said a group of Iowa scientists in a group statement earlier this month. “Iowans are living with climate change now and it is already costing us money.”

According to a new analysis of extreme weather from the Center for American Progress, there have been at least seven extreme weather events in 2012 that have caused over $1 billion in damages. In September, The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported that the first eight months of 2012 were the most extreme for weather ever recorded.

11 Responses to ‘Exceptional’ Drought Conditions Expand In The U.S., Likely Persisting Through February

  1. Mike Roddy says:

    The worst hit states- Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Wyoming- all voted for Romney, by big margins. According to polls, most farmers who have watched their crops wither away are global warming deniers, if only to deny human influence on climate.

    The reason cannot be ideology, since farmers these days are deeply involved in government at all levels, from price supports to surplus sales. The media is to blame here. They listen to Rush, and watch Fox or local news shows.

    These people can be reached, if we just make the effort.

  2. Dennis Tomlinson says:

    An observation – probably means nothing – but overlay the U. S. Drought Monitor map with this one of the Ogallala aquifer.

  3. Will Fox says:

    In my experience, it doesn’t matter how much “evidence” you present to these deniers, they simply won’t accept it. Like young earth creationists, they’ll always find an excuse, no matter how ludicrous or demonstrably false.

  4. Leif says:

    It will it be about January before the Arctic ices up again and then perhaps a month or so of weather stabilization to bring normalcy back to the plains weather patterns in my view.

    There currently is a huge, ~2x Sandy, 970 mb blocking low parked in the Gulf of AK that must be affecting the jet stream, (or visa/versa), as flooding is expected along the whole western sea board as the week progresses. Floods here, droughts there, seams Iike I remember reading about that someplace.

  5. “These people can be reached, if we just make an effort.”

    Maybe. I think a lot to them deny anthropogenic global warming on religious grounds. Any rational, science-based discussion will be rejected by them.

    Also, they don’t see, or want to see the contradictions and hypocrisy of leaning on the government for all manner of subsidies while claiming that government is too big, incompetent, dangerous and so on.

    How Rush, Rove and Company, who are essentially secularists (Rove is an actual atheist) manage to sell their message to these folks is a bit of a puzzle — until you consider that there is a lot of racism involved. In other words “it’s alright for hard-working ranch owners like me to get some of our taxes back in subsidies, but them lazy welfare queens don’t deserve a penny. Why don’t they get a job?”

    It gets worse. A lot of Midwest industrial agriculture is corporate which means publicly-traded. That means that if the farms begin to lose money’s due to the drought, their capitalization will simply move elsewhere. How are we gonna keep ’em down on the farm when they’ve seen quarterly returns?

  6. Paul Klinkman says:

    Separate the absolute loonies from the sane people. Try to reach the sane people, and make a half-hearted attempt at people in between. The younger people in such communities usually have more open minds.

    Understand that the sane people are keeping their mouths shut so that they don’t anger the loonies, some of whom may be their relatives. They can still change their votes in the voting booth without reprisal. They can still get their churches to sign on to a Christian stewardship of the earth agenda.

  7. jim moore says:

    It looks like weather related disasters will cost about 1% of GDP this year.
    Does anyone know of any historical research that shows the cost of weather related disasters as a percentage of GDP? It would be interesting to see what kind of cost were “normal” and if they are increasing rapidly.

  8. BillD says:

    We’ve had some rain in northern Indiana, but the lakes are still low, so I guess that “D1” applies. In the map key, S = short-term, L = long-term, but many areas are “SL.” Is that an intermediate duration?

  9. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    These people may be kind and thoughtful, but generally only for their own kind. They resent people who know more than themselves. They are weighed down by peer pressure, where apostasy is treated by ostracism and rejection. They are infected with a crude but virulent religiosity where ‘God’ determines everything, inducing an obtunded fatalism even in the face of an apocalyptic fate. In fact, many are aching for an Apocalypse, so that they might be Raptured. Every one of these tendencies is cleverly and ruthlessly exploited by the Right and the brainwashing MSM. I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for many of these to get Enlightened.

  10. Artful Dodger says:

    Production is down. Profits are up. It’s been covered here at Climate Progress.

  11. Maybe “SL” is short for “SOL.”