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U.S. Bakes in Worst Drought in 60 Years
July 16, 2012

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The drought in the U.S. is the worst since the 1950s, according to federal authorities. Extremely low rainfall and the third-driest month in 118 years exacerbated the problem.

So far, 26 governors have declared states of emergencies across their states, and some governors have labeled the drought as a national disaster. Nearly three-quarters of the country was termed abnormally dry or worse, according to the National Drought Mitigation Center. That figure is double what it was in 2011.

Agriculture in many states is suffering hugely, with crop planting and production down in some states in record numbers. Corn, in particular, has suffered in 18 states.

Livestock maintenance is a problem in other states. Ranchers in one state reported having to sell their cattle because of insufficient funds to feed and maintain them.

The Army Corps of Engineers reported low water levels in the Mississippi River south of New Orleans. As a result, saltwater the Gulf of Mexico was able to work its way upriver. In order to stop a potential threat to the water supply, the Corps of Engineers was overseeing the construction of an underwater barrier to prevent any more saltwater incursion.

Many farmers still have water stored up, particularly in wells and reservoirs, but are paying extra to run irrigation from those wells and reservoirs more than normal in order to make up for the lack of rainfall.

As a sign of the times, a new report detailed that June 2012 was the fourth-warmest June around the world since organizations began tracking such things, in 1880. It was the 328th straight month above the 20th Century average. The last time global temperatures were below average was February 1985.

Last year's drought cost farmers nearly $12 billion. Agriculture officials expect that this year's drought will exceed that total.

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