I’ve discussed this topic a few times before. The U.S. is currently under a severe drought. And the drought is continuing; there is no end in sight. The latest U.S. Drought Monitor shows that most of the continental U.S. is engulfed by drought. The degree of the drought ranges from “abnormally dry” all the way to “Exceptional”, which is two steps beyond “Severe”. The vast majority of U.S. cropland is not under irrigation. For corn, about 12% is irrigated and 88% depends on rainfall. But when irrigation draws water from the water table or an underground aquifer, the water must come from somewhere. Ultimately, the source of groundwater is precipitation.
Here are the various degrees of drought:
And now take a look at this animation that I made, which shows the development of the drought, from October, 2010, to January 2013, at three-month intervals.
The drought severely affected Texas in 2011. Then in 2012, the area affected by the drought moved to the Midwest, and also spread out to encompass much of the nation.
I’ve already discussed how the drought might affect food prices, including for meat, poultry, and dairy. The corn and soy crops were strongly affected by the drought in the summer of 2012. Corn and soy are the main ingredients in most livestock feed. And so rising corn and soy prices will cause meat, poultry and dairy prices to rise, probably by this spring.
But since the drought has continued into the winter, it is affecting the winter wheat crop. The USDA weekly weather and crop bulletin says: “Unfavorably dry conditions led to further deterioration of winter wheat in some areas. By December 30, the portion of the Plains’ wheat rated in very poor to poor condition included 61 percent in Oklahoma, 49 percent in Nebraska, and 31 percent in Kansas.” (USDA)
If the drought continues, the winter wheat will not have enough moisture to complete its growth in the spring. And if there is no relief from the dryness by summer, the effects on the corn and soy crops could bring food prices even higher.
The drought is one of the current events that preppers should be keeping an eye on. The U.S. Drought Monitor here releases a new report every Thursday by 8:30 am Eastern Time. The drought is not a future possible disaster, but rather a disaster that is currently unfolding. How severe it will be is not yet clear.