UK & World News
US Drought Is Worst For 50 Years
The drought gripping the United States has been confirmed as the worst in more than 50 years.
Officials at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration say 55% of the continental US was suffering moderate or extreme drought by the end of June.
It is the highest percentage since December 1956 when 58% of the country was covered by drought.
This summer 80% of the country is abnormally dry and the report said the drought expanded in the west, the Great Plains and Midwest last month with the 14th warmest and 10th driest June on record.
The report said that America's corn and soybean belt has been especially hard hit over the past three months, suffering its seventh warmest and 10th driest April-to-June period.
Forecasters say there is no end in sight for the region with minimal rainfall expected and soaring temperatures set to continue in the coming week.
Drew Lerner, meteorologist for World Weather Inc, said: "It's the same old song and dance."
Last week more than 1,000 counties across 26 states were declared as natural disaster areas, the biggest such announcement in history.
The decision allows farmers to seek financial assistance to help them through the crisis and relax rules on where livestock are allowed to graze.
Analysts CWG say the drought was more focused on southern Wisconsin, western Illinois, southern and western Iowa, far northern and far western Missouri, southwest Minnesota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas.
Until now, the devastating drought has been decimating corn and soybean crops in the southern Midwest and eastern Midwest in states such as Arkansas, Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio and southern Illinois.
It is not just farmers who have been struggling in the record-breaking heat wave.
Firefighters have been battling wild fires in states across the country. Hundreds of thousands of people have been hit with power cuts in a series of powerful storms.
Dozens of deaths have been blamed on the combination of factors.