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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epic temperature gradient in Michigan right now. The range is 68 to 102, that is probably some sort of record.
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Member Since: July 21, 2011 Posts: 83 Comments: 7167
Quoting LargoFl:
....................................going to be some flooding issues around florida this evening if this keeps up
My neighborhood is experiencing unprecedented flooding as over 7" has fallen since Sunday afternoon.

The water level started to drop last night, but reversed as torrential downpours came through at 3am, 9am, and 2pm today.

Looks like there is more on my way too.
Member Since: December 1, 2006 Posts: 2 Comments: 3620
Giant wind tunnel destroys buildings to study safety in South Carolina


The cement block wall of a strip mall restaurant came tumbling down as the business was blasted with 135 mph winds.

The epic event unfolded under controlled conditions inside the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety's giant wind tunnel in rural Chester County, S.C. IBHS, a non-profit safety research organization funded by the insurance industry, conducts the building industry's equivalent of car crash tests inside the giant chamber, which can simulate hurricanes, hail storms, wildfires and other natural disasters.

Today's test inflicted hurricane force winds on two strip mall-style structures after air cannons fired debris through the windows.

The buildings were made of identical materials with mirror image floor plans.

One, however, was reinforced with the latest enhancements recommended by insurers.

"It's really important when you're talking about defending against windstorms that the building is stronger by being completely integrated," said Julie Rochman, IBHS' executive director. "The roof is tied to the walls. The different pieces of the roof are tied to each other and the walls are reinforced so that if wind or air does get in, and the building is pressurized, it doesn't come apart."

The enhanced construction techniques cost 5 percent more, on average, than standard building practices, according to Carl Hedde of Munich Reinsurance America, Inc.

Hedde, who also serves as chairman of IBHS' board, said, "With a lot of the tests that we're doing here, the major take home is the difference -- the small difference in cost to be able to build a much stronger building that protects the occupants, protects the business and ultimately protects the property."
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Jose:



91L

Member Since: July 21, 2011 Posts: 83 Comments: 7167
Last year it was the cat videos, this year its the Memes..
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Quoting allancalderini:
Jose look better than that thing.

Exactly!
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786. ARiot
Quoting Patrap:
There are now 156 days until the 2012 Winter Solstice


"Winter is coming"

Do you guys talk about Nor'Easters when the tropics shut down? Or is it random weather stuff like now?

(curious)

When I lived up east, being from the south, I always considered big winter storms the same as tropical systems and heavy gulf moisture back home. Just colder and a little more slick :-)
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Quoting Tribucanes:
Someone please keep that cat out of the special brownies.

Lol!!
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Quoting Articuno:

This!? An Invest?



._.
Jose look better than that thing.
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Someone please keep that cat out of the special brownies.
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Quoting allancalderini:
Anyone think 91L will become Ernesto because I really doubt I give it a 10% chance and that is very generous of me.


I don't even give it a 1%...

Because when I look at it and think about why it was tagged I go:

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Member Since: July 21, 2011 Posts: 83 Comments: 7167
Quoting allancalderini:
Anyone think 91L will become Ernesto because I really doubt I give it a 10% chance and that is very generous of me.


I agree. It is unlikely to form.
Member Since: July 21, 2011 Posts: 83 Comments: 7167
Anyone think 91L will become Ernesto because I really doubt I give it a 10% chance and that is very generous of me.
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Quoting spathy:


And hopefully it wont end in the same way!!!!
You mean the thunderstorms?.Well actually the thunderstorms that ended our heat wave were not as server as the ones during the heat wave.We would have big thunderstorms and the next day it would warm right back up to it's upper 90's to 100.
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Quoting PalmBeachWeather:
Just got back from Islamorada and Key Largo fishing trip......... Finally I timed it right


Hey PalmBeachWeather,
Glad you made it safe and sound and all..
But the most important question is "Did you catch some fish?"And what kind are we having for supper...LOL.. :)
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Quoting Articuno:

Hi wash
How are u
Doing great on this hot afternoon.I'm so happy that this heat wave won't be as long as the other one.
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Quoting washingtonian115:
The "I" button sure comes in handy.Hey Jeff ncstorm Rita and Articuno.

Hi wash
How are u
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Cozy in Detroit this afternoon:

hot
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The "I" button sure comes in handy.Hey Jeff ncstorm Rita and Articuno.
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Hey Keeper, Syria on cusp of using chemical weapons and huge naval build up off Iranian coast by the US. Little off topic but the quickening of events now only grows faster and faster. Special forces from numerous Western countries in Syria helping Rebels. They look the part, have the credentials, and if captured or killed would never be discovered as Westerners. Damascus battles increasing daily. May be close to the finish there now. Assad gets cornered he may unleash chemical weapons on his populace. Hussein and the Kurds in Iraq ring a bell? New show in the states based on the aftermath of an electromagnetic pulse. Foreshadowing what Iran or North Korea could do if they sneak a nuke in and launched it over Kansas. For those who don't know, the US and Russians agreed to not detonate nukes at altitude because of electromagnetic pulses discovered during testing near Hawaii in the sixties which fried electronics. A successful electromagnetic pulse, at the right altitude, would fry every electrical item in America. We would instantly go back to the 1800's in almost every fashion. Only diesel vehicles and equipment would still run. Russia and China would never do it to us because we'd just do the same to them. Iran and North Korea especially have little to lose by it. If a rouge element did it, we'd have a hard time placing the blame.
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Quoting cyclonekid:
Fabio down to 40.

EP, 06, 2012071718, , BEST, 0, 226N, 1206W, 35, 1004, TS


I would like to see a Tropical Storm hit Southern California in my lifetime. Could happen in a strong El Nino year. I think the highest ocean water temps I've see off Southern California have been mid 70's.
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Quoting RitaEvac:
Natural causes killed penguins along Brazilian coast, scientists say

745 penguins wash ashore

Earlier this year it was 3000 dead dolphins found along the Chile Coast. Now Penguins? D:
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Quoting ScottLincoln:


The overwhelming majority of farmland along the Mississippi River did not flood. A system of levees in place that is maintained by local entities and overseen by the US Army Corps of Engineers greatly reduces the chance of this happening. It would take numerous levee breaches for large areas of farmland along the river to flood, and this did not occur last year.

Although the farmland derived much of its fertile quality from periodic flooding, this is not so much the case anymore. Farmer's typically use fertilizer and crop rotation strategies to sustain arable land.

I know. I was referring to the area that was intentionally flooded south of St. Louis.
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Natural causes killed penguins along Brazilian coast, scientists say

745 penguins wash ashore
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Quoting washingtonian115:
I do at least think a few of the workers read the blog..and don't be a smart alec..I see what your doing and I fell for the bait.Damn.
I usually quote Bones McCoy at this point...Dammit Jimm
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Quoting PalmBeachWeather:
Just my opinion.. Do you really think they are screwinging with us??? Really?
I do at least think a few of the workers read the blog..and don't be a smart alec..I see what your doing and I fell for the bait.Damn.
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Quoting washingtonian115:
NHC stop screwing with us..I seriously think they read this blog.They know we want to track a storm so they declare something that will not amount into anything.It may affect shipping lanes.But hey Chris became a hurricane really far north early in the season.
Just my opinion.. Do you really think they are screwinging with us??? Really?
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Quoting spathy:


It is an interesting thought though.
The larger of the last floods was when/Early 90s?
Is that earlier flooded land being used again for farming?
Was it 92?
You know the flood I am referring to,the year that farmhouses were filmed floating downstream.


Although that description could probably apply to numerous floods, you are probably referring to the flooding from summer 1993. That is the current flood of record for many locations on the Upper Mississippi River (upstream of Cairo, IL and the confluence with the Ohio). There were more levee issues in 1993 than today. I'm not sure what relative impacts to agriculture there were between flooded/non-flooded pieces of farmland.
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NHC stop screwing with us..I seriously think they read this blog.They know we want to track a storm so they declare something that will not amount into anything.It may affect shipping lanes.But hey Chris became a hurricane really far north early in the season.
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Quoting kwgirl:
The sky has darkened and there is thunder here in Key West as well. I went to SeFlGamma blog site and she has screen showing the whole state of Florida with the low circulating drawing this mess across the keys, up over the mainland. Sure does look threatening.
Just got back from Islamorada and Key Largo fishing trip......... Finally I timed it right
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The sky has darkened and there is thunder here in Key West as well. I went to SeFlGamma blog site and she has screen showing the whole state of Florida with the low circulating drawing this mess across the keys, up over the mainland. Sure does look threatening.
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Quoting bappit:

Looks like a painting. Not saying it is. Just looks like it.


I guess it was hard to get a good picture with the heat coming from it but yeah it does look like a painting..
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Quoting Patrap:
There are now 156 days until the 2012 Winter Solstice


The Quickening
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 171 Comments: 53835
Patrap somewhere Keeper is kicking himself for not posting that first today.
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....................................going to be some flooding issues around florida this evening if this keeps up
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 38500
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 38500
Someone been hangin with Duck Dynasty family
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Quoting ncstorm:
Interesting but experts thought this was a tornado that touched down in oregon but it was really a fire whirl..


Looks like a painting. Not saying it is. Just looks like it.
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They could have given this invest status...it looks better than that thing. :S

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There are now 156 days until the 2012 Winter Solstice
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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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