Though cooler temperatures graced the mid-section of the country this week, the most recent report from the US Drought Monitor shows that the worst drought since 1956 continued to deepen over much of the country.
In total, more than 63% of the land area of the continental US suffered from drought conditions. This is an increase of 1% over last week’s drought report which showed 62% of the US mainland suffering from drought. Fully thirty percent of the US was suffering from extreme or exceptional drought, about the same levels as last week.
That said, beneficial rains in the Ohio valley resulted in slightly less farmland being gripped by drought. According to the Drought Monitor, 85% of the U.S. corn crop, 83% of soybeans, 63% of hay, and 71% of cattle areas are still experiencing drought. Though this number is a slight improvement, it is still a very large swath of US agriculture.
Other impacts from the ongoing drought this week included large regions affected by fires. California, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington all experienced large blazes. Idaho has experienced its worst fire year on record and so far the United States has seen the most area burned for this time of year. Fires continued to rage in far eastern Russia, but most Siberian fires are now currently contained. The Balkans also experienced a major outbreak of wildfires during an extreme heat wave that resulted in numerous heat deaths and temperatures soaring to well over 104 degrees in many places. Spain saw fires continue both on the mainland and on one of its islands. Greece saw a major wildfire engulf one of its islands as well.
The Mississippi river experienced sporadic interruptions of traffic with sections of the river shut down on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of this week. Though the river has been running low throughout the summer, this is the first time that major traffic interruptions have occurred.
Worldwide, large areas of drought also affected the Balkan states, swaths of Europe, parts of India, and large sections of Asia.
The UN has recommended that nations begin setting up plans to deal with long-term droughts and the number of climate scientists linking the current droughts and extreme weather events to climate change continues to grow.