Historic 2012 U.S. drought: 6th greatest on record

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 10:59 PM GMT on July 16, 2012

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The great drought of 2012 is upon us. The percentage area of the contiguous U.S. covered by moderate or greater drought increased to 56% by the end of June, and ranked as the sixth largest drought since U.S. weather records began in 1895, said NOAA's National Climatic Data Center in their monthly State of the Climate drought report on Monday. The last time more of the U.S. was in drought occurred in December 1956, with 58%. June 2012 ranked as the 10th greatest U.S. drought on record, when considering the percentage area of the U.S. in severe or greater drought (33%.)


Figure 1. June 2012 ranked in sixth place for the greatest percent area of the contiguous U.S. covered by moderate or greater drought, since record keeping began in 1895. Graphic created from data from NOAA's National Climatic Data Center.

The forecast: hot and dry with increasing drought
The great drought of 2012 is going to steadily worsen during the remainder of July. Recent runs of the global computer forecast models predict a continuation through the end of July of the large-scale jet stream patterns that have brought the U.S. its hot, dry summer weather. The most extreme heat will tend to be focused over the center portion of the county. That was certainly the case Monday, with temperatures near or in excess of 100° observed from South Dakota to Michigan. High temperatures near 100°F are expected in Chicago and Detroit on Tuesday, and over much of the Midwest.


Figure 2. Comparison of drought between June 2012 (top) and June 1988 (bottom) shows that drought conditions covered a similar proportion of the contiguous U.S., but the spatial patterns were different. The 2012 drought is especially intense over the Southwest U.S., but in 1988, this region experienced a very active summer monsoon season that kept the region moist. However, in 1988, the Northern Plains were much drier than in 2012. Image credit: NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory.

A multi-billion dollar drought disaster underway
Agronomists and drought experts are comparing the scale and intensity of the 2012 drought to the 1988 drought. With the forecast offering little optimism, the costs of the 2012 drought are certain to be many billions of dollars, and the disaster could be one of the top ten most expensive weather-related disasters in U.S. history. Droughts historically have been some of the costliest U.S. weather disasters. A four-year drought and locust plague from 1874 - 1877 cost $169 billion (2012 dollars), and was arguably the most expensive weather related disaster in U.S. history (see Jeffrey Lockwood's 2004 book, Locust.) The costs of the great Dust Bowl drought of the 1930s, which displaced 2.5 million people, are incalculable. The costs of government financial assistance alone were $13 billion in 2012 dollars (Warrick, 1980.) The 1988 drought cost $78 billion (2012 dollars), the second most expensive weather disaster since 1980, behind Hurricane Katrina.

The associated heat wave of the great drought of 2012 is also a major concern. The heat waves associated with the great droughts of 1980 and 1988 killed between 7,500 - 10,000 people, according to NOAA's National Climatic Data Center. The heat waves of the 1930s are blamed for 5,000 deaths. The death toll from the 2012 heat wave is approaching 100, including 23 in Chicago, up to 19 in Wisconsin, 18 in Maryland, 17 in St. Louis, and 9 in Philadelphia. The toll will undoubtedly grow as more heat-related deaths are discovered, and as the heat continues.


Figure 3. The U.S. has seen twelve weather-related disasters costing at least $15 billion since 1980, according to NOAA's National Climatic Data Center. Two of the top three most expensive disasters have been droughts.

Tornadoes kill one, injure ten in Poland
A series of rare tornadoes hit northern and western Poland over the weekend, killing one and injuring ten. At least 100 homes were destroyed, and one of the twisters measured 1 km (0.6 miles) in diameter. Tornadoes are quite rare in Poland. According to the publication, An updated estimate of tornado occurrence in Europe by Nikolai Dotzek (2003), Poland reports about two tornadoes per year, and probably has two more per year that are unreported. Thanks go to wunderground member beell for posting this link.


Video 1. Raw footage of the weekend tornadoes that hit Poland.

Jeff Masters

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Quoting muddertracker:


Beer has been helping ugly people get some "attention" for centuries...


yeah, but, usually attention by other ugly people, lol. If you can't get a "9" or a "10" sober, chances are pretty good you're not getting either of those through drinking. However, I'm sure the old adage still applies though...."at 10 (pm) shes a 2, and at 2 (am) she's a 10...lol.
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Quoting GeorgiaStormz:


how so?

Below average.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32275
Quoting spathy:


Its been so cloudy over SW Fl all day. So the storms have been dissipating as they come on shore.


Hi spathy. I work near the Bell Tower. We'd had probably .10 inch of rain this morning. I got 3.86 inches at home last night
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
This year's tornado season has been like the 2009 Atlantic hurricane season.



how so?
seems more like the 2012 snow and hurricane seasons.
Although i suspect the hurricane season may not follow this trend.
But then again, its a consistent trend, you never know
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9731
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Ocean Heat Content is already high enough to support a major hurricane in the northwest Caribbean if all other factors were great.

OHC may lack the coverage it has in the Caribbean the past few years, but it's much higher and extends to a much greater depth than the past few years.



The area it covers is where the significance exists, however. We don't have half the heat in the Atlantic as we've had the past couple of years. Less heat means less heat to take away via tropical cyclones. In essence, we have fewer tropical cyclones. An oncoming El Nino possibility does not help matters either. El Nino or not, this looks like an average season unless something drastically changes.

2011:



2012:

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Quoting spathy:

Its been drizzling all day.
I keep looking at the radar and thinking wow its going to hit at any time. And then nothing but drizzle.
Not that I mind its just there is no heating to maintain the storms as they move onshore.


Yep, 78 degrees at 1:13pm during summer in FL and it's not even raining. Strange, it is...
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Quoting jeffs713:
I agree with moving on to weather, please.... we're starting to beat a dead horse, and nobody is going to change their mind today, anyway.


nobody has ever changed their mind on this blog that I know of.
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9731
This year's tornado season has been like the 2009 Atlantic hurricane season.

Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32275
Quoting HurricaneHunterJoe:
Quoting kwgirl:
Good morning all. GS, try my remedy for sore throats. Gargle with dill pickle juice. Works wonders. Even had people with severe strep throat swear by it after trying it. And if the soreness goes down the throat you can swallow some of the juice to kill the pain. Just watch out, because of the high salt content.

How's that stuff work on hangover's?
I have always found that protein and carbs are the cure for a hangover. As well as the "hair of the dog". I wouldn't want to drink the amount of pickle juice it would take to cure a hangover, if it ever would.
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Quoting muddertracker:


Beer has been helping ugly people get some "attention" for centuries...


One last thing, is at a party like 3 months ago I saved my bro from falling victim to said beer-goggle-itis... he almost got with some girl that looked like a cross between Sarah Jessica Parker and Ugly Betty... :0
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533. MahFL
15. It kills your liver


It takes many many years of alcohol abuse to kill a liver. Also the liver has a remarkable abilty to recover if you manage somehow to beat the adiction in time.
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I agree with moving on to weather, please.... we're starting to beat a dead horse, and nobody is going to change their mind today, anyway.
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5885
Very pleasent good afternoon to everyone. Just checking in to see what topics are being discussed. Had a few passing showers here in Antigua, nothing much. The sun is out again in all of its glory.

By the way Alchohol is always Master never Servant.
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Quoting spathy:


Its been so cloudy over SW Fl all day. So the storms have been dissipating as they come on shore.


I know right? If it's gonna be cloudy all day like this, it at least has to be windy. LOL. Wondering if we're gonna get any rain today. I have .01" on my gauge..
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Cool pic from Tuscon, Arizona over the weekend.

Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32275
Quoting muddertracker:


Beer has been helping ugly people get some "attention" for centuries...



LOL!!
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527. MahFL
plus the taste of alchohol is so miserable..


Thats why the breweries invented alcopops, get the under 21/18's drinking sweet drinks with alcohol in them.
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
Observed at: Toronto Pearson Int'l Airport
Date: 1:00 PM EDT Tuesday 17 July 2012
Condition: Mainly Sunny
Pressure: 29.71 inches
Tendency: falling
Visibility: 15 miles
Air Quality Health Index: 5

Temperature: 94.6°F
Dewpoint: 69.6°F
Humidity: 44 %
Wind: W 19 gust 28 mph
Humidex: 110


Now were talking Keep a dewpoint of 70 is like being in the Caribbean. You guys stay cool as this is just the beginning as it will only get hotter as we hit August.
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Quoting muddertracker:


Beer has been helping ugly people get (edited) some attention(edited) for centuries...


now weve really gone off the deeep end.

back to weather everyone :)
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9731
Quoting GeorgiaStormz:


15. It kills your liver
16. It messes with your nervous system
17. It destroys brain cells
18. It is a poisonous toxin for your body to remove
19. Helps promote cancer sometimes in esophagus
20 It messes with your kidneys
21. It can damage your stomach and intestines
22. It tastes horrible



Beer has been helping ugly people get some "attention" for centuries...
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Quoting hydrus:
I believe in that too..Everything in moderation, and live a longer and happier life. Some fairly healthy looking storms off of S.W. Florida...Waterspouts.?
\


Healthy looking storms building here in orlando as well.

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Quoting GeorgiaStormz:


15. It kills your liver
16. It messes with your nervous system
17. It destroys brain cells
18. It is a poisonous toxin for your body to remove
19. Helps promote cancer sometimes in esophagus
20 It messes with your kidneys
21. It can damage your stomach and intestines
22. It tastes horrible


Not if you drink it in moderation. Those are the effects from drinking excessively.

Anyways, as geek said, we're way off topic. Back to weather.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32275
Ex-Emilia is generating convection again...



Loopable by clicking
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Observed at: Toronto Pearson Int'l Airport
Date: 1:00 PM EDT Tuesday 17 July 2012
Condition: Mainly Sunny
Pressure: 29.71 inches
Tendency: falling
Visibility: 15 miles
Air Quality Health Index: 5

Temperature: 94.6°F
Dewpoint: 69.6°F
Humidity: 44 %
Wind: W 19 gust 28 mph
Humidex: 110
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 174 Comments: 54372
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

1. Beer reduces the risk of having Coronary Artery Disease.
2. Beer is good for male potency.
3. Beer contains anti-oxidants.
4. Beer reduces the possibility of having blood clots.
5. Beer reduces the risk of developing kidney stones.
6. Beer softens the skin and lets it glow.
7. Beer relaxes the muscles and helps remove fatigue.
8. Beer boosts mental activity.
9. Beer strengthens bones.
10. Beer promotes the development of hemoglobin.(Hemoglobin makes the blood red)
11. Beer promotes romance.
12. Beer boosts self confidence.
13. Beer lowers bad cholesterol.
14. Ice cold beer tastes great. (lol)


15. It kills your liver
16. It messes with your nervous system
17. It destroys brain cells
18. It is a poisonous toxin for your body to remove
19. Helps promote cancer sometimes in esophagus
20 It messes with your kidneys
21. It can damage your stomach and intestines
22. It tastes horrible

Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9731
Quoting HurricaneHunterJoe:



I wish I had a solar filter for my telescope,with all the recent activity and all. I don't think it would be too expensive.


Depends on the type of solar filter you want. Mylar ones are cheap but are low quality. Glass ones are much better but cost a little more (around $150).

Solar narrow-band H-alpha filters are very expensive, but also show the highest quality view of the surface of the sun (with all it's various convective features). A regular solar filter will allow you to see limb prominences and sunspots, but an H-alpha will show you a whole loty more. To give you an idea of cost, the 40mm Coranoda solar telescope runs around $500-$600, and almost all of that cost goes into the front lens filter. And that's a single purpose scope (solar only).

Also, as a safety note, never never never NEVER get a through-the-eye-piece solar filter. Always get an end-cap filter (and if you opt for mylar, regularly check for holes). Depending on the aperature of your scope, a through the eyepiece filter ranges from being a mere blinding hazard to potentially shredding your eyeball with shards of searing hot glass.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

Definitely not. Unless you want to die soon, that is.

Everything in moderation.
I believe in that too..Everything in moderation, and live a longer and happier life. Some fairly healthy looking storms off of S.W. Florida...Waterspouts.?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting allancalderini:
I1997 was a super el Niño I think meanwhile this one is not even a Niño until they declare it and I think it would be like in the end of September and if you are talking about landfalls then 2010 was not an active season after all even though it produce 19 name storms.


I understand that a season can be active even with no landfalls, and I also understand that it only takes 1 bad one to make an inactive season deadly (1992).

I just didn't see much of a similarity with the 2002 & 2004 seasons, other than perhaps how they ended. I thought 2004 was pretty active in both U.S. effects + overall storm activity. Whereas, 2002 IMO, was more like 1997, no, not "identical", but not all that active.
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I've drank a few times with friends or by myself... But I know my limits and I've never gone too far. And yeah, I'm underage but really, most junior/senior high schoolers and college kids do it... it's not that bad if you can control yourself and not do anything stupid like drive or something along those lines. But anyways, this is getting waaaaaaaaaaayyyyyy off topic, so we should probably resume discussing SOMETHING weather related.

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Ocean Heat Content is already high enough to support a major hurricane in the northwest Caribbean if all other factors were great.

OHC may lack the coverage it has in the Caribbean the past few years, but it's much higher and extends to a much greater depth than the past few years.

Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32275
511. MahFL
Quoting jeffs713:
15. Beer is an effective social lubricant, fostering social interaction.


But it's not actually beer, it's lager.
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Quoting Grothar:


Yes, they did. The ancient Pharaohs were quite fond of it. Why do you think they all walked sideways?
Good morning Gro..It is true, if one brews his own, not only is it stronger, its healthier and you get a certain satisfaction out of it as opposed to buying a six pack at the store..I will be sending you a WU mail soon.
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Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 174 Comments: 54372
Quoting Abacosurf:
Keep it up!!...You don't need booze to get chicks. I haven't drank in 10 years and I can't keep them away. lol

Correct. I wasn't trying to encourage anyone to drink - but I was also trying to encourage an open mind in the future.
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5885
Quoting yoboi:


that's why ya should consume 14 a day....

Definitely not. Unless you want to die soon, that is.

Everything in moderation.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32275
Quoting jeffs713:

Did they even have beer back when you were in college?

I honestly don't drink much now that I'm in nursing school - I'm too busy studying.


Yes, they did. The ancient Pharaohs were quite fond of it. Why do you think they all walked sideways?
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26483
Quoting HurricaneHunterJoe:
Good Day to everybody! Anything earth shattering going on?
There was a 5.0 earthquake in New Zealand...that was the most earth shattering event today.
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501. Abacosurf
4:54 PM GMT on July 17, 2012
Quoting GeorgiaStormz:


nope your wrong.
me and my GFs agree, alchohol is disgusting.
And despite the majority not, many people still agree with us.

Plus if im sober ill get them better than all the tipsy folks
Keep it up!!...You don't need booze to get chicks. I haven't drank in 10 years and I can't keep them away. lol
Member Since: August 28, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 446
500. yoboi
4:53 PM GMT on July 17, 2012
Quoting katlbeach:


You're right, but you should really get it looked at by a health professional. Health diagnosis via WU may not be highly recommended.
No offense to anyone, just sayin . . .



that's funny....
Member Since: August 25, 2010 Posts: 7 Comments: 2344
499. TropicalAnalystwx13
4:51 PM GMT on July 17, 2012
Quoting GeorgiaStormz:


it might not be very bad for you, wouldnt say it is great.
Id rather get alchoholic beverage's good effects elsewhere

1. Beer reduces the risk of having Coronary Artery Disease.
2. Beer is good for male potency.
3. Beer contains anti-oxidants.
4. Beer reduces the possibility of having blood clots.
5. Beer reduces the risk of developing kidney stones.
6. Beer softens the skin and lets it glow.
7. Beer relaxes the muscles and helps remove fatigue.
8. Beer boosts mental activity.
9. Beer strengthens bones.
10. Beer promotes the development of hemoglobin.(Hemoglobin makes the blood red)
11. Beer promotes romance.
12. Beer boosts self confidence.
13. Beer lowers bad cholesterol.
14. Ice cold beer tastes great. (lol)
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32275
498. jeffs713
4:50 PM GMT on July 17, 2012
Quoting GeorgiaStormz:


it might not be very bad for you, wouldnt say it is great.
Id rather get alchoholic beverage's good effects elsewhere

One can lead to the other... just sayin'
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5885
497. jeffs713
4:48 PM GMT on July 17, 2012
Quoting katlbeach:


You're right, but you should really get it looked at by a health professional. Health diagnosis via WU may not be highly recommended.
No offense to anyone, just sayin . . .

I agree, but minor symptoms like that aren't worth the trip most of the time. And does it count if I'm almost a health professional?
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5885
496. GeorgiaStormz
4:47 PM GMT on July 17, 2012
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Drinking beer in moderation is actually good for you. Drinking beer excessively is not.


it might not be very bad for you, wouldnt say it is great.
Id rather get alchoholic beverage's good effects elsewhere
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9731
495. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
4:44 PM GMT on July 17, 2012
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 174 Comments: 54372
494. GeorgiaStormz
4:44 PM GMT on July 17, 2012
Quoting Grothar:
I never drank in all my years in the military. I never drank in college. I never drank. The strongest thing that every passed through me was Ovaltine. Peer pressure was never an issue.


YES!!!!!
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9731

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About

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.