The best historical analog is a relatively recent one, said Michael Brewer, a physical scientist at NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center.
“This year actually looks a lot like 1988,” he said. “A summer-onset drought that hit in the Corn Belt, with conditions that came on and deteriorated rapidly, with big impacts to the agricultural community.”
That drought caused an estimated $40 billion in agriculture losses — $78 billion in today’s dollars. But it lasted only a year.
“That’s very different than the droughts of the ’30s and ’50s,” Brewer said. “The drought in the ’30s was almost 10 years long. In the ’50s, depending on where you were, it was anywhere from a few years to six to eight.
Though scientists have not fully analyzed the causes of the current drought, Brewer said it is “consistent with what we’d expect under climate change.”
“You’re going to see more extremes,” he said. “When it rains, it rains harder. But it means there is potential to go with longer periods of time between rain.”
Brilliant thinking. He is saying the drought is less extreme than past ones, and that is consistent with more extreme weather due to climate change.
Heavy rain is forecast this week for much of the corn belt.