(Newsroom America) -- The worst drought in more than 50 years is gripping the U.S., a report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Tuesday.
"Based on the Palmer Drought Index, severe to extreme drought affected about 33 percent of the contiguous United States as of the end of June 2012, an increase of about 10 percent from last month," said the NOAA report.
That compared to about "4 percent of the contiguous U.S. fell in the severely to extremely wet categories," it said.
In all, about 56 percent of the U.S. was suffering under drought conditions, the largest percentage since December 1956, according to NOAA climate data.
Still, though conditions around the country are much warmer and drier than normal, they still have not approached the depth and extent of the "Dust Bowl" conditions seen in the early 1930s.
In historical context, the Weather Channel noted that the current condition is the 10th-largest severe drought since 1895, "but the more severe drought categories don’t cover quite as much land now as did the droughts of 1988 and the early 2000s."
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