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:
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