- More than 3,000 records broken in one week – and even more are underway
- Drought conditions present in 56 per cent of the country
- Farmers struggling to maintain crops as fields battered by dry conditions
PUBLISHED: 21:40 EST, 5 July 2012 | UPDATED: 10:11 EST, 6 July 2012
The records, which were broken between June 28 and July 4, include 2,253 high and 936 low temperatures for the time period, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported.
Among the cities affected, St. Louis, Missouri has seen the mercury soar past 100 degrees for eight days in a row – its second longest streak of 100-degree temperatures since 1936.
The staggering statistics come after severe weather battered the country – including devastating fires plaguing Colorado, tornadoes ravaging Washington D.C., and storms wiping out electricity for thousands on the east coast.
SCROLL DOWN FOR VIDEO
And now a drought can be added to the list as the long bouts of record-high temperatures prolong and intensify the drought conditions that are putting many in financial fear.
According to the national Drought Monitor, a staggering 56 per cent of the entire country matches the qualifying factors and is considered to be in a drought.
This is the highest percentage in the 12 years that the data have been compiled, topping the previous record of 55 per cent from August 26, 2003.
It also smashed data from the previous week by a massive five percentage points.
Brad Rippey, a meteorologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, told msnbc.com that unique conditions have allowed 2012 to nearly level the extremely dry 1988.
‘This year the high temperatures have certainly played into this drought,’ he said. ‘There’s a lot more evaporation and crop demands for water.’
The Drought Monitor added that the weather is starting to ‘take a significant toll’ on food supplies as the area of abnormally dry and drought conditions expands across Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Missouri.
‘In the primary growing states for corn and soybeans, 22 per cent of the crop is in poor or very poor condition, as are 43 per cent of the nation’s pastures and rangelands and 24 percent of the sorghum crop,’ it noted.
As the heat scorched crops across the country, corn and soybean prices jumped to new highs on Thursday.
‘It’s not only abnormally dry, but now you have 100 degree heat combined with the ongoing drought and it’s too much for the crop,’ Accuweather.com senior meteorologist Alex Sosnowski said.
Dried out: In Indiana where the drought has scorched thousands of acres of cropland, dead corn stalks lay in fields (left) and fish bones lie in the dried lake bed south of Dewey Point (right)
In Tennessee, county farm agents have reported the extreme conditions to the National Agricultural Statistics Service office in Nashville.
RECORD HIGHS ACROSS COUNTRY
Between 28 June and 4 July, 3,000 temperature records for the time period were broken across the country. Even more records were smashed on Thursday July 5, including:
Evansville, Indiana: 107 F (Old record 99 F – 1953)
Russellville, Arkansas: 107 F (105 F – 1964)
Paducah, Kentucky: 105 F (99 F – 1980)
St. Louis, Missouri: 105 F (102 – 1936)
Batesville, Arkansas: 104 F (100 F – 1943)
Madison, Wisconsin: 104 F (98 F – 1911)
Nashville, Tennessee: 104 F (101 F – 1954)
Chicago, Illinois: 103 F (102 F – 1911)
‘Crops have really begun to suffer and go backwards this week. Rain is needed yesterday,’ wrote agent Richard Buntin in Crockett County.
Crops and pastureland are ‘burnt to a crispy crunch,’ wrote Kim Frady of Bradley County.
‘Need rain,’ in Loudon County, added John Goddard. ‘Saw a farmer digging a waterline about 4-5′ deep. Nothing but powder!’
The weather service added that although some areas can expect cooler temperatures in mid-July, ‘drought is likely to develop, persist or intensify’ across the Ohio and Tennessee valleys, the Corn Belt region, the Mississippi Valley and much of the Great Plains.
In Alabama, abnormally dry conditions and droughts are parching 91 per cent of the state, with many city areas more than a foot below normal rainfall totals for the year.
‘It’s a long-term drought, in that they never came out of it from last year. It’s going to take not just one hurricane but three months of above-average rainfall to end that,’ said John Christy, from the University of Alabama.
Forestry officials in the state said there’s an increased threat of wildfires because of the dry conditions, and farmers are relying on irrigation to sustain crops in some areas.
‘We’re really needing water right now,’ Brandon Dillard, an agronomist with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, told the AP.
Further north, the temperature topped 100 degrees for a second day in a row in Chicago on Thursday. Summer school was canceled at 21 public school buildings without air conditioning. Part of Columbus Drive near downtown was closed after pavement buckled.
On Saturday, Washington, D.C., could break its all-time record of 106 degrees (41 Celsius) set in 1930, Sosnowski said.
Come young and old: People of all ages took to the fountains outside the National Gallery in Washington D.C. to cool off on Thursday
Such predictions are unwelcome in the areas surrounding the nation’s capitol as it was hit by a very serious thunderstorm this past weekend.
Six days after the wide-ranging storms, more than 500,000 homes and businesses remained without power from Ohio to Virginia as a heat wave baked much of the nation on Thursday.
The storms crossed the eastern United States with heavy rain, hail and winds reaching 80 miles per hour (129 kph) last Friday, leaving more than 4 million homes and businesses without power, and the record heat that followed has killed at least 23 people.
Nearly a third of electricity customers in West Virginia, home to 1.9 million people, were without power, making it the hardest hit state.
Utilities warned that some people could be without power for the rest of the week in the worst-hit areas.
Continuing to fix errors: Six days after a massive storm hit the east coast, electric company Pepco is still working to give power back to all of its customers in the areas surrounding Washington, D.C.
Temperatures in Charleston, West Virginia’s capital and largest city, were expected to reach 95 degrees Fahrenheit (35 Celsius) on Thursday and top 100 degrees (38 Celsius) on Friday and Saturday before returning to near normal levels in the mid 80s (around 29 Celsius) by Monday, according to Accuweather.com.
In New York City, Consolidated Edison Inc. worked to repair equipment to end a dip in electrical power, or brownout, in Brooklyn as heavy air conditioning usage strained supplies.
American Electric Power Co Inc of Ohio said about 224,000 homes and businesses remained without power in West Virginia and Virginia, and about 144,000 in Ohio.
FirstEnergy Corp of Ohio said it was working to restore power to more than 111,000 customers in West Virginia and Maryland. That was down from about the initial 566,000 homes and businesses affected by the storms.
Illinois-based Exelon Corp said its Baltimore Gas and Electric unit still had about 53,000 customers out in Maryland.
Virginia power company Dominion Resources Inc said it had about 29,000 customers still without power in its Virginia and North Carolina service areas.
Washington, D.C.-based Pepco Holdings Inc said it had about 20,300 customers without power in the District of Columbia and Maryland, and about 16,100 were out in New Jersey.
A cluster of gusty storms which formed over lower Michigan Wednesday night drifted over Ohio Thursday morning and moved into West Virginia, bringing sporadic rainfall, Sosnowski said.
The Midwest and East should start seeing more normal temperatures next week, when the extreme heat moves west, bringing triple-digit temperatures to parts of Idaho, Utah, Washington and Oregon.
Video: Buckling roads, cooling off in fountains, even the President is feeling the heat!…