Central US is now getting worst of the drought. Corn crops are stressed, rivers are running low

Experts say the drought in the central U.S. is the worst since at least 2012, and in some areas, is drawing comparisons to the 1988 drought that devastated corn, wheat and soybean crops. This year, although temperatures have been generally mild through the spring and early days of summer, rainfall has been sorely lacking.

The U.S. Drought Monitor, operated by the federal government and the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, reports that nearly half of Kansas is in either extreme or exceptional drought condition—the highest drought designation. More than a quarter of Nebraska is in extreme drought, and 13% is in exceptional drought. Arid conditions permeate Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Missouri and Kentucky.

The frequency and intensity of droughts and rainfall are increasing due to burning fossil fuels and other human activity that releases greenhouse gases, according to data from a pair of satellites used to measure changes in Earth’s water storage. The study was published in March in the journal Nature Water.