Farmers in The Great Plains and the Ohio River Valley were looking forward to a bumper drop this year. That was earlier this spring when unseasonably warm weather allowed them to get into their fields earlier than usual, and the crops got an incredible jump start on the growing season compared to years past. But that didn't last...the rain stopped coming.
This is a video from NOAA (The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration) showing the progression of drought and heat stress on American crops.
If you click this link you can see a report from Weather.com featuring farmers and their concerns and situations: Weather Channel Short Report on Current Drought.
According to my folks who live in Kansas, earlier this spring the wheat harvest was as much as three weeks ahead of schedule, and farmers across America's breadbasket were reporting the same thing - corn, soy, wheat, etc.
Then a drought settled in. It has been warmer than normal and drier than normal across huge areas of the Nation.
This map from the National Climatic Data Center of NOAA (the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration) shows temperature ranks, state by state, across the country. A score of "118" means it's the warmest Jan-June average temperature ever recorded. Just about everyplace except the west coast had either record high temperatures or much higher than normal temperatures.
It's also a LOT drier than normal through the breadbasket of America. The Ohio River Valley and the SW are dry, dry, dry. A score of "1" indicates the driest Jan-June ever.
The map below shows state by state precipitation ranks for the month of June 2012 compared to all previous Junes since the late 1800s. Wyoming is tinderbox dry, as is most of the rest of the mountain west, and the Midwest is also suffering terrible drought.
It's a terrible thing. Pray that the rains return, and quickly.
These high temperatures and drought conditions are short-term weather events, but they are generally consistent with climate change scenarios climatologists have predicted for years. It is statistically difficult to tie a particular weather event to climate change, but one thing is highly certain, that is that the overall trends of observed global climate change over the past few decades make these kinds of weather extremes more likely to occur.