The drought hasn't been long enough to rank up there with the 1930s Dust Bowl or a bad stretch in the 1950s, David Miskus, a meteorologist at the weather service's Climate Prediction Center, told msnbc.com.The lack of significant and consistent rains means that the drought is likely to intensify and will contribute to crop damages. That, in turn, is likely to result in higher food prices.
"We don't have that here yet," he said. "This has really only started this year."
But for a single year it's still pretty significant, not far behind an extremely dry 1988.
While 1988 saw much drier conditions and an earlier start to the drought than this year, said Brad Rippey, a meteorologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 2012 has its own interesting qualities.
"This year the high temperatures have certainly played into this drought," he told msnbc.com. "There's a lot more evaporation ... and crop demands for water."
The Drought Monitor noted that the drought is starting to "take a significant toll" on food supplies. "In the primary growing states for corn and soybeans, 22 percent of the crop is in poor or very poor condition, as are 43 percent of the nation’s pastures and rangelands and 24 percent of the sorghum crop."
Of course, the extreme temperatures is also straining power grids, sparking severe storms, and people have to take precautions due to the high temperatures.
Heat-related deaths are being reported across the nation, from Baltimore to California.
The best way to prevent such an outcome is to find someplace cool, and to follow some common-sense measures and to check up on the elderly, infirm, and children.