Well, its official – the U.S. government has acknowledged that the U.S. is in the worst drought in over 50 years, since December 1956, when about 58 percent of the contiguous U.S. was in moderate to extreme drought.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Climatic Data Center’s “State of the Climate Drought July 2012” report, “Based on the Palmer Drought Index, severe to extreme drought affected about 38 percent of the contiguous United States as of the end of July 2012, an increase of about 5 percent from last month… About 57 percent of the contiguous U.S. fell in the moderate to extreme drought categories (based on the Palmer Drought Index) at the end of July… According to the weekly U.S. Drought Monitor, about 63 percent of the contiguous U.S. (about 53 percent of the U.S. including Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico) was classified as experiencing moderate to exceptional (D1-D4) drought at the end of July.”
Much business writing on the effects of the drought have focused on its agricultural aspects. To give but one, the hottest, driest summer since 1936 scorching the Midwest have diminished projected corn and soybean crop yields s in the U.S. for a third straight year to their lowest levels in nine years. Accordingly, the price of a bushel of corn has jumped 62 percent since 15 June and soybeans gained 32 percent in the same period.
But as consumers fret about the inevitable rise in food prices to come, the drought is unveiling another, darker threat to the American lifestyle, as it is now threatening U.S. electricity supplies.