Drought Now Worst Since 1956

More than half of continental US affected
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 17, 2012 12:33 AM CDT
Updated Jul 17, 2012 7:52 AM CDT
A cow looks for something to eat as it grazes in a dry pasture southwest of Hays, Kansas.   (AP Photo/The Hays Daily News, Steven Hausler)
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(Newser) – The US is in the grip of the worst drought in more than 50 years, with almost 80% of the country either in drought or in abnormally dry conditions. The NOAA's latest report finds that 56% of the continental US is in drought, the sixth-highest percentage on record and the worst since 1956, reports the Washington Post. "Topsoil has dried out and crops, pastures, and rangeland have deteriorated at a rate rarely seen in the last 18 years," the NOAA says.

The Department of Agriculture has declared the drought the biggest disaster in its history, and forecasters expect little relief in the short term for the middle of the country, where corn and soybean crops have been devastated. "I have never seen this type of weather before like this. A lot of old timers haven't either," a farmer in Kansas who has seen his corn crop wither and his cattle pastures dry up tells the AP. "I just think we are seeing history in the making."

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