In one week the US jumped from 11.9 % in extreme drought to 28.9 % in extreme drought, an "unprecedented speed". But it will take months for higher food prices to get to consumers.

U.S. ‘extreme drought’ zones triple in size

The drought in America’s breadbasket is intensifying at an unprecedented rate, experts warned, driving concern food prices could soar if crops in the world’s key producer are decimated.

The US Drought Monitor reported a nearly threefold increase in areas of extreme drought over the past week in the nine Midwestern states where three quarters of the country’s corn and soybean crops are produced.

“That expansion of D3 or extreme conditions intensified quite rapidly and we went from 11.9 percent to 28.9 percent in just one week,” Brian Fuchs, a climatologist and Drought Monitor author, told AFP.

Almost two thirds of the continental United States are now suffering drought conditions,...78 percent of US corn and 11 percent of soybean crops have been hit...

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Where I live in eastern PA, I prefer to have a lawn of grass mixed with weedy perennials like pig's ear. We don't water the lawn. In hot summers the grass gets brown, but the deeper rooted perennial weeds stay green.

There's one example of xeriscaping nearby. A corner gas station has a stone garden with isolated plants. It's barren looking, and doesn't support wildlife.

If we lived in a dryer area we'd do our front landscaping differently.

Actually, the US Government admits far worse about the drought than what you post here, and even hints climate change might be responsible (gasp! say it isn't so!)

From the British Broadcasting Corporation:

The US sweltered under its hottest year on record in 2012, breaking the previous yearly average by 0.6C (1F), the US government has said.

Last year the average US temperature was 13C (55.3F) amid widespread drought and a mild winter.

Scientists said the heat was caused both by global warming and by natural weather variation.

But they said the size of the increase over the previous record year, 1998, was unprecedented.

"These records do not occur like this in an unchanging climate," Kevin Trenberth, head of climate analysis at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, said. "And they are costing many billions of dollars."

(Video available at BBC Link: Illinois Governor on drought)

Caption: The governor of Illinois examines the ravages of the drought

In 2012, 11 weather-related disasters caused at least $1bn (£623m) in damage, including "superstorm" Sandy and a months-long drought that hit almost two-thirds of the country, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The drought - the worst in the US since the 1950s - contributed to higher temperatures. Without enough moisture in the soil to evaporate into rainfall, air becomes hotter and dryer.

US temperature records go back to 1895 and are now based on reports from more than 1,200 weather stations across the contiguous 48 states.

Last year was 1.7C (3.2F) warmer than the average for the entire 20th Century, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said. July broke the record for hottest month.

Nineteen states set yearly heat records in 2012. Alaska, however, was cooler than average.

Good point, thanks for sharing it! So a few individuals in the govt are finally speaking out. Too bad the prez and congress aren't concerned.

"These records do not occur like this in an unchanging climate,"...

Well, we got two inches of snow and a half-inch of ice pellets today in the Nebraska panhandle, which will do absolutely nothing to break the drought.

On the other hand, that's a lot more precipitation than we've had in a while.


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