The US Drought Monitor map for August 14, 2012 was published at 8:30 Am today, August 16, 2012 and is pictured above. Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina (the Southeast) have shown some improvement due to rain, with Alabama no longer experiencing exceptional drought. The Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states received enough rain that things did not get any worse, according to the map. The South and Southern Plains states Oklahoma, Texas and Louisiana experienced deterioration in conditions, with “large swaths of exceptional drought” added this week in Oklahoma. Rain alleviated some of the drought in the Midwest and Northern Plains states, including “central Iowa, across northern and central Illinois and Indiana, and into western Ohio and southern Michigan,” as well as North and South Dakota. However, the summary states, ” Exceptional Drought (D4) expanded in the western and central parts of Nebraska and through central and eastern Kansas and into western and central Missouri.” In the West, extreme and exceptional drought expanded in Colorado. Idaho is also dry.
CNN published this video four days ago, nicely explaining the drought impact to the mighty Mississippi River and the shipping industry:
Updated impact to the US corn and soybean agricultural belt is summarized as follows (from drought map link above):
As of last week, 87% of the U.S. corn crop, 85% of soybeans, 63% of hay, and 72% of cattle areas were experiencing drought. Over half of the corn and soybean areas are experiencing Extreme (D3) to Exceptional (D4) Drought. This has led to both reduced yields and earlier harvests.
We live in the Ohio River Valley in Kentucky at the border where the Ohio divides Kentucky from Southern Illinois that is an area of exceptional drought. Even though people cheered at the first rain a few days ago, that first rain after a drought is kind of like water drops to a hot stove: pfssssst. We will need several soaking rains. This morning I took a walk and put water and food out for the few birds that are out. The only other animal I noticed was a lizard. He did not want to be photographed, so I took these photos:
(Note: Click to enlarge any of the flickr photos in this post)
Given the dearth of corn these days, there is concern among folks we have spoken with out and around, that the ethanol requirement is cutting into the already dwindling livestock feed supply. On the shortage of hay, I had a sad conversation with a neighbor who has riding horses. She said that when she attended her last riding club, she learned that some horse owners are selling their horses (I assume for slaughter but I was too stunned to ask) because there is not enough food. I have a family member who owns horses in Indiana, who is not showing or otherwise exercising horses, in an effort to reduce the stress of increased energy requirements on the horses.
In other odd news, low water levels in reservoirs, called “water drawdown” is associated with increased methane emissions, according to this WSU- Vancouver study and covered in this TPM article. It stands to reason that drought can lead to low water levels in reservoirs like the one you see in this article. What to do with all that methane? Well, landfill methane is being used to power prison generators, according to this article.
Speaking of landfills, as you know, we try to keep good things from going to the landfill by retrieving food from dumpsters. We were stunned to find the other day, of all things, corn, in a dumpster. We reasoned that some of the sweet corn must be coming from irrigated gardens somewhere, because there is not any corn growing around here.
WeatherDem’s latest analysis titled, NASA & NOAA: July 2012 Was 12th, 4th Warmest On Record, is here.
A wildlife impact article by Jim Low titled, Drought affecting Missouri fish, wildlife, forests, is here.
The Department of Defense “purchases approximately 94 million pounds of beef, 64 million pounds of pork, and 500,000 pounds of lamb annually.” They are looking to increase purchases due to the increase in drought-related slaughtered meat, and their statement is here.
Drought conditions and heat are connected to incidents of West Nile Virus, as this article, titled, “Ohio health officials confirm 9th case of West Nile virus, mosquitoes test positive statewide,” explains.
CDC’s 2012 West Nile Update August 14 page is here.
President Barack Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack visited the McIntosh family farm in Missouri Valley, Iowa, on Monday, August 13, 2012 to view the drought stricken crops. The federal government has already taken some steps to ease farmers whose crops are growing poorly this summer, and the administration plans to spend close to $200 million on livestock, officials announced earlier in the day. The Department of Defense is encouraging vendors to buy meat to ease the crisis. USDA photo by Dave Kosling.
Aerial views of drought affected Colorado farm lands, 69 miles east of Denver, Colorado on Saturday, July 21, 2012. Green areas are irrigated, the yellow areas are dryland wheat crops. USDA photo by Lance Cheung.