(CNSNews.com) – Almost 62 percent (61.8%) of the continental United States experienced drought in July 2012, making it the largest drought-affected area since the end of the “Dust Bowl” era in December 1939, when 62.1 percent of the U.S. was drought-stricken, the USDA said.
According to the Palmer Drought Index – which covers 113 years and is used for historical comparison purposes — the worst drought ever recorded was in July 1934, when 79.9 percent of the continental U.S. was affected.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture, since 1999, has used a new Drought Monitor to determine the extent of agricultural drought.
As of Jan. 1, the Drought Monitor showed that 61.09 percent of the continental U.S. was experiencing drought – down from the September 2012 peak of 65.45 percent.
Despite the slight decline in overall U.S. drought coverage, the central portion of the nation experiencing the worst drought category – D4, or exceptional drought – has been slowly rising. Exceptional drought covered 6.75 percent of the nation on January 1, the greatest coverage since November 2011.