U.S. drought grows to cover widest area since 1956
(CBS/AP) MINNEAPOLIS - The drought gripping the United States is the widest since 1956, according to new data released Monday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Fifty-five percent of the continental U.S. was in a moderate to extreme drought by the end of June, NOAA's National Climactic Data Center in Asheville, N.C., said in its monthly State of the Climate drought report. That's the largest percentage since December 1956, when 58 percent of the country was covered by drought.Last week, a government report said 2011's record drought in Texas was made "roughly 20 times more likely" because of man-made climate change, specifically meaning warming that comes from greenhouse gasses like carbon dioxide, CBS News correspondent Wyatt Andrews reports.
(At left, watch a "CBS Evening News" story on the drought)
The study, requested by NOAA, looked at 50 years of weather data in Texas and concluded that man-made warming had to be a factor in the drought.
This summer, 80 percent of the U.S. is abnormally dry, and the monthly drought report said the drought expanded in the West, Great Plains and Midwest last month with the 14th warmest and 10th driest June on record.
(At left, watch a "CBS Evening News" report on corn farmers struggling to survive)
"Topsoil has dried out and crops, pastures and rangeland have deteriorated at a rate rarely seen in the last 18 years," the report said.
The report is based on a data set going back to 1895 called the Palmer Drought Index, which feeds into the widely watched and more detailed U.S. Drought Monitor. It reported last week that 61 percent of the continental U.S. was in a moderate to exceptional drought. However, the weekly Drought Monitor goes back only 12 years, so climatologists use the Palmer Drought Index for comparing droughts before 2000.
"Where am I going to get that from? You have concerns about it every morning when you wake up," Brummer, 59, said Monday. "The drought is bad, but that's just half of the problem on this farm."
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