Wednesday, July 18, 2012

US: Driest Conditions Since the Dust Bowl?

The United States is facing some of the driest conditions since the droughts of the 1950's and 1930's which  were characterized by the Dust Bowl. The US Department of Agriculture has declared the current drought as the largest disaster in its history, affecting over 26 states -nearly two-thirds of the continental US. However, this current drought, although equal in size, "is not as severe or long lasting as the multiyear droughts of the 1950's and 1930's" according to Mark Svoboda, a climatologist  with the US National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Svoboda refers to this drought as a "flash drought" because it arrived in a time frame of weeks to months, relatively fast for a drought.

The dry conditions were caused by the heat wave that hit the greater Midwest in June.
The drought is hitting agriculture and livestock the hardest. The dry spell came during the most critical point for corn growth. Tom Vilsack, the USDA secretary, noted that the forecast for other agricultural products, including soybeans and livestock, had been hurt by the drought.

It is hoped that with sustainable water practices, people will be able to manage the drought conditions.

Angelica Oman
Graduate Program Assistant