"West Texas sees worst drought since Dust Bowl"
Climatologist: “Along with the U.S., France, and China all are experiencing some pretty nasty drought that is going to have a major global impact on commodities, wheat in particular.”
Parts of West Texas, Oklahoma and adjoining states are suffering from a drought that rivals the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. Some scientists say this is a kind of “global weirding” heralding climate change.
Were it not for the Biblical flooding of the Mississippi River and, well, Biblical whirlwinds slamming the Midwest, the “hellish” side of Hell and High Water would be the big news. Last month a “record breaking 1.79 million acres burned across the country” and most of that was in Texas, NOAA reported.
The Houston Chronicle reported this week, “Texas’ farmers and ranchers are coping with their eighth drought in the last 13 years, and this one, while still young, has a chance of slamming producers with their biggest losses ever, officials said.
Nearly four fifths of Texas is under extreme or exceptional drought. Reuters reports, the “dire drought” has “expanded across the key farming state of Kansas … the top U.S. wheat-growing state” over the last two weeks, “adding to struggles of wheat farmers already dealing with weather-ravaged fields.”
“It is pretty bad,” said Kansas state climatologist Mary Knapp. “For a lot of these areas… the last significant rainfall was in July of last year.”
It’s not just the United States that is being slammed. As AFP reports, “Central China’s worst drought in more than 50 years is drying reservoirs, stalling rice planting, and threatens crippling power shortages as hydroelectric plants lie idle, state media said Wednesday.”
The UK’s Guardian explains the “drastic” measures the Chinese are taking :
Severe drought has forced China to release 5 billionn cubic metres from Three Gorges reservoir for irrigation and drinking water
The dried up Yangtze river in southwest China’s Chongqing municipality.
Regional authorities have declared more than 1,300 lakes “dead”, which means they are out of use for irrigation and drinking supply.
Europe is also being slammed, as Bloomberg reported yesterday:
Crops in northwestern Europe are suffering from the driest weather in decades, while Texas A&M University said yesterday wheat and cotton on in the U.S. state are in an “extremely dire” situation on a lack of soil moisture.
And China has stores of grain that allow it to weather a bad crop season, Reuters reports:
A prolonged drought in China could hit grains output in key growing regions, further squeezing global supplies and putting upward pressure on prices, but plentiful domestic wheat stocks will act as a cushion and keep import volumes low.
How do we get deluges and droughts at the same time in neighboring states?
” ‘Global weirding’ is the best way to describe what we are seeing,” said Katharine Hayhoe, a climate scientist at Texas Tech University. “There is a lot going on these days that’s not what we are used to seeing. What’s happening is our rainfall patterns are shifting. In some places it means more heavy rainfall, in some places it means more drought, in some places it means both.”
Get used to it:
- An introduction to global warming impacts: Hell and High Water
- Hell and High Water: “Great Texas Drought” drives record wildfires as record deluge drives Mississippi floods; NOAA reports “April 2011: historic U.S. extremes in rains, floods, tornadoes, and fires”
- Study: Global warming is driving increased frequency of extreme wet or dry summer weather in southeast, so droughts and deluges are likely to get worse
- NCAR analysis warns we risk multiple, devastating global droughts even on moderate emissions path
- Washington Post, Lester Brown explain how extreme weather, climate change drive record food prices.