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August 17 News: As Oklahoma Goes Through Second Straight Drought Year, ‘Severe’ Conditions Grip Entire State

The worst of the U.S. Drought Monitor categories, exceptional drought, is broadening its hold on Oklahoma. [The Oklahoman]

Thursday’s report shows 38.86 percent of the state is experiencing exceptional drought, compared to 16.03 percent the previous week. In all, 100 percent of Oklahoma falls in the severe to exceptional drought categories.

One such experience would be bad, but this year makes two consecutive.

“The second year of drought is challenging,” Oklahoma Agriculture Secretary Jim Reese said. “Producers were certainly looking for some relief. We would love to take advantage of these market prices. Cattle producers sold a lot of cattle last year and for the most part are operating smaller herds to get through this.”

The dryness has been so intense in the nation’s heartland that for a broad swath of the country — covering all or part from Missouri west to California and from Texas north to Montana — drought conditions are likely to persist all the way through the end of November. [Climate Central]

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Food security experts working on a chapter in a U.N. overview of global warming due in 2014 said governments should take more account of how extremes of heat, droughts or floods could affect food supplies from seeds to consumers’ plates. [Reuters]

Crews in central Washington, rural Idaho and Southern California made gains on several wildfires, allowing some evacuees to return home and protecting two vacation towns from a massive encroaching blaze. [Washington Post]

Investment in U.S. ethanol production, which along with a drought-plagued crop is being blamed for near-record corn costs, may decline should federal use requirements for the biofuel be reduced, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said. [Bloomberg]

What will things look like in 2050 as more and more of the land gets paved over? How hot will the summers be? And how could that temperature rise be mitigated? [Los Angeles Times]

India’s shortage of monsoon rainfall was brought into focus Thursday, with two states formally declaring rain-deprived areas to be in drought and with Parliament likely to take additional steps to mitigate the impact of the rain deficiency on the broader economy. [Wall Street Journal]

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A major report on oceans and climate change, released today, says the damage under the sea is much clearer than when it released its last report on the subject three years ago. [ABC News]

Thailand, the world’s largest rice exporter, is content to sit on a record stockpile as the worst U.S. drought in half a century may boost prices, according to Commerce Minister Boonsong Teriyapirom. [Businessweek]