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Ongoing Coverage of Historic Drought in U.S.

By Climate Central

In 2012, a warm and dry spring followed by a scorchingly hot summer plunged the U.S. into one of its 10 worst drought events on record. At its peak in late summer 2012, the drought extended from Delaware to California, with the most intense drought conditions centered in the nation's heartland. This made it the most widespread drought since 1956 and drew comparisons to the 1930s Dust Bowl era. Although conditions have since eased for the eastern half of the country, severe drought continues to linger for a large swath of the U.S. west of the Mississippi River.

Overall, the drought has caused at least $30 billion in damages to crops, cattle and commerce across the U.S. and left a wide swath of the wheat belt declared a disaster area. It also serves as a lesson of what we can expect in a warming world where droughts are likely to become more extreme.

Climate Central is chronicling the ongoing impacts of the drought. View our archive of past and present coverage:


August 12: California Has Hottest Start to Year While Midwest Chills

July 31: Record-Setting Drought Intensifies in Parched California

July 16: Six Months In and Sizzling California Sets Record

July 15: Groundwater Is Drought Lifeline for California Farmers

June 19: California’s Drought Just Got a Little Worse

May 29: Rains Slightly Ease Southern Plains Drought

May 21: Rain! Storm Heads for Southern Plains, Won’t End Drought

May 15: 100 Percent of California Now in Highest Stages of Drought

May 1: No Drought Relief in Sight For Desiccated West

April 25: The Explosive Growth of California’s Drought in 1 Chart

April 10: U.S. Drought Retreats 15 Percent in One Year

April 9: Why California’s Drought Isn’t Going Anywhere

April 1: Rains Won’t Quell California Wildfire Season

March 20: Spring Thaw to Trigger Floods; Calif. Drought Locked In

March 13: East Greets Winter’s End; West Braces for Drought, Fire

March 6: Rains Ease Calif. Drought, Make Wildfire Outlook Grimmer

February 28: Monster Storm Sits Coiled on California’s Coast

February 28: Drought Fuels Rising Tide of Texas Water Conservation

February 27: New Mexico Facing ‘Extremely Destructive’ Wildfire Season

February 24: Increase in Western Wildfires Fuels Obama’s Budget Move

February 16: Are We on the Path to Peak Water?

February 6: ‘Atmospheric River’ May Put a Dent in California Drought

February 3: Time is Running Out for California Drought Relief

January 23: Calif. Drought Spurs Some Cities—Not All—to Conserve

January 16: California Drought Expands, Fueling Heat and Fire


December 20: Still Uncertain: Climate Change’s Role in Drought

December 19: Fracking May Make Texas Power Supply Drought Resistant

December 12: Is the West’s Dry Spell Really a Megadrought?

Novermber 21: U.S. Winter Outlook Dominated by Dire Drought News

November 3: What Happens When the World Dries Out

September 19: Epic Flooding Deals Colorado Drought Crippling Blow

August 26: Yosemite Fire Example of How Droughts Amplify Wildfires

August 23: Drought Comparison: 2012 vs. 2013

August 15: Climate Change May Be Easing Devastating 2012 Drought

July 25: Monsoon Rains Bring Some Drought Relief to Southwest

July 22: Mid-July Heat Wave Bakes U.S. From Coast to Coast

July 11: Rising Temps, Shrinking Snowpack Fuel Western Wildfires

July 6: The Name of the Game: Hot, Dry, and Warming

July 1: The Climate Context Behind the Deadly Arizona Wildfire

June 24: 8 Images to Understand the Drought in the Southwest

June 24: Interactive Wildfires Map Tracks the Blazes in West

June 14: Western Drought Intensifies, Leads to Deadly Wildfires

May 23: Optimism for Crops in Midwest; Dire Straits in the West

May 16: The U.S.: A Nation Divided By Drought

May 13: Tinderbox-Dry Western U.S. at High Risk of Major Wildfires

May 10: In Parched Southwest, Anxious Wait for Summer Rains

May 9: Jet Stream Enhances Drought in West, Midwest Relief

May 2: Drought and Heat May Fuel Early Fire Season in West

April 25: Drought to Floods For Some; Dryness Holds On To West

April 18: Storms Chip Away at Drought in Northern U.S.

April 17: Scientists Raise Questions on Drought and Climate

April 12: At Long Last, Great Plains Sees Some Drought Relief

April 11: Global Warming Not Significant in 2012 Drought: Report

April 9: Spring Blizzard Aids Drought-Stricken States

April 4: Another Summer of Drought Looms for Texas and West

March 28: Drought Has Stranglehold on West; Southeast Sees Relief

March 21: Drought and Floods in NOAA’s ‘Mixed Bag’ Spring Outlook

March 14: Drought Eases in Midwest, but Rainfall Deficit Continues

March 7: U.S. Drought Intensifies in Texas and Florida

Feb. 28: Wet Times Are Masking New York’s Real Drought Risk

Feb. 28: Heavy Rains, Snow Bring First Hint of Good Drought News

Feb. 21: Time Is Running Out to Avert a Third Summer of Drought

Feb. 19: Snowstorm Headed For Heart of Drought Region

Feb. 18: Interactive: The Top 10 Hardest-Hit States for Crop Damage

Feb. 14: Good News, Bad News Continues for Drought Across U.S.

Feb. 8: Drought to Last Through April; Southwest May Improve

Jan. 31: U.S. Drought Hangs Tough Through January

Jan. 25: Low Snowfall Raises Concerns About Drought Recovery

Jan. 17: Drought Shrinks Slightly; NOAA Issues Gloomy Outlook

Jan. 10: USDA Declares Winter Wheat Belt Drought Disaster Area


Dec. 26: Extreme Weather 101: Drought & Our Changing Climate

Dec. 20: Drought to Last Into 2013; Impacts Expected to Intensify

Dec. 17: Mississippi Faces Shipping Closure as Water Levels Drop

Dec. 13: Resilient Drought Holds on Through Dry Autumn

Dec. 1: Working Wonders Without Water Out West

Nov. 29: Tenacious U.S. Drought Worsens, To Last Through Winter

Nov. 21: Drought Puts Trees the World Over ‘At the Edge’

Nov. 15: Winter Storms Bring A Little Relief to U.S. Drought Areas

Nov. 8: Drought Still Afflicting Nearly 60 Percent of the U.S.

Nov. 1: Downpours From Sandy Fail to Ease Drought in U.S.

Oct.18: Winter Wheat Crop Now Feeling Impact of U.S. Drought

Oct. 15: A Record Lack of Rain in Drought-Stricken Nebraska

Oct. 12: Welcome Rains Are Forecast, But So Are Severe Storms

Oct. 11: Some Improvement, Some Deterioration for Drought in U.S.

Oct. 6: The Impact of the 2012 U.S. Drought: Pick Your Poison

Oct. 4: Drought Conditions Recede Slightly Across U.S.

Oct. 3: In West, September Brought Record Heat and Dry Weather

Sept. 27: Another Week Brings More Pessimistic Drought News

Sept. 26: Scientists Seek Insights into Outlier Drought Projections

Sept. 20: Drought Grows, Forecast to Persist Through Early Winter

Sept. 13: 2012 U.S. Drought Hits New Highs; Southwest Gets Relief

Sept. 10: Mixture of Grim News, Relief in Drought Forecast for Fall

Sept. 6: Rains From Isaac Don’t Put Much Dent in U.S. Drought

Sept. 4: Image of the Day: Drought Forces Cows to Moo-ve East

Aug. 30: Isaac Will Lessen Drought, but Only in Some Places

Aug. 23: The Killer Drought of 2012 Eases - But Not By Much

Aug. 17: Lack of Warning on Drought Reflects Forecasting Flaws

Aug. 16: Drought May Ease in Coming Weeks; Too Late for Crops

Aug. 15: 2012 Drought Inches Up In U.S. Historical Rankings

Aug. 9: U.S. Heartland Sees No End in Sight to Epic Drought

Aug. 4: Six Images You Need to See to Understand the Drought

Aug. 4: Drought Intensifies and May Last Through October

Aug. 1: USDA Expands Drought Disaster Zones Across U.S.

Aug. 1: Drought Helps Dry Up Tornadoes as July Sees Record Low

July 30: Extreme Heat Continues to Plague South Central States

July 26: Drought’s Silver Lining is Fewer Tornadoes Across U.S.

July 26: Drought Tightens Its Grip on High Plains, Central States

July 24: Great Lakes Water Temperatures at Record Levels

July 20: Drought Has Ties to La Niña, with Global Warming Assist

July 19: Flash Drought in U.S. Explained in 22 Seconds

July 19: Drought in U.S. Worsens, With No Relief in Sight

July 18: Dry Weather Boosts Odds of Extreme Heat, Study Finds

July 17: Heidi Cullen Talks Drought, Extremes on MSNBC

July 17: Explaining the Extreme Drought in U.S. Via Maps

July 16: U.S. Drought is Most Severe Since 1950s, Report Says

July 13: Drought Prompts Natural Disaster Declaration in 26 States  

July 12: Spurred by Record Heat, Drought Stretches Across U.S.

July 9: U.S. Has Warmest Year-to-Date As Drought Expands

July 5: Historic Heat Wave Marches On as Drought Expands