More Than Half of U.S. Counties Now Natural Disaster Areas

By Jillian MacMath, Staff Writer
August 8, 2012; 5:10 AM ET
Share |
Instagram user Chris Bodelle captured this photo of the drought in Oklahoma on Aug. 2, 2012.

More than half of the counties in the U.S. have now been labeled "natural disaster areas" by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as of Wednesday.

The USDA added 218 more counties in 12 states to the list, due to "damage and losses caused by drought and excessive heat," a USDA report reads.

"The core of the heat has been settling southward over the Plains in recent days," Expert Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski said.

"While conditions may improve slightly in the coming weeks over the central Plains, they could get worse for a time in the southern Plains and interior Texas, as far as grazing lands are concerned."

Climate Extreme: Drought Hits the Gas Pump
Lower Ethanol Content Could Mitigate Rising Costs

Pledging a commitment to helping America's farmers and ranchers, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced two new pieces of disaster assistance for the farmers and ranchers affected.

Vilsack, partnered with President Obama, has expanded emergency haying and grazing on approximately 3.8 million acres of conservation land to bring relief to livestock producers that are experiencing hay and pastureland shortages.

Additionally, he announced that crop insurance companies will now provide a 30-day grace period for farmers on insurance premiums in 2012, preventing incurring interest due to unpaid premiums.

"President Obama and I will continue to take swift action to get help to America's farmers and ranchers through this difficult time," said Vilsack.

The assistance seeks to support U.S. livestock producers "dealing with climbing feed prices, critical shortages of hay and deteriorating pasturelands."

A full list of the counties now designated as disaster areas can be found here.


Comments left here should adhere to the Community Guidelines. Profanity, personal attacks, and spam will not be tolerated.

More Weather News

Daily U.S. Extremes

past 24 hours

  Extreme Location
High N/A
Low N/A
Precip N/A


This Day In Weather History

West Yellowstone Montana (1983)
Minus 6 degrees (F) (Record for month is minus 9 degrees in continental U.S. This was also recorded at West Yellowstone).

Charleston, SC (1989)
Hurricane Hugo intensified throughout the day as it moved northwestward toward Charleston. Hugo made landfall just before midnight (Sept. 22) over Sullivans Island, north of Charleston, with winds estimated between 130 and 150 mph northeast of the eye. Central pressure at the time of landfall was 934 MB or 27.58 inches. Winds gusted from 100-119 mph in downtown Charleston. The storm surge northeast of Charleston reached 20 feet, destroying most beach homes on the Barrier Islands.

Casper, WY (1994)
Temperature drops from 78 to 33 in 24 hours. 3" of snow accompanied the temperature plunge.