The crippling drought that has decimated crop yields, dried up parts of the Mississippi River and disrupted navigation could cost the economy more than Superstorm Sandy will, studies show.
Initial estimates peg the drought’s damage to fall between $60 billion to $100 billion, with a first official estimate due out in February, according Steven Cain, a specialist with Purdue University’s Agriculture Communications Service, The Christian Science Monitor reported.
Sandy inflicted around $75 billion in damage. Because both events took place in the same year, they will have lasting economic consequences.
“That’s going to be an amazing recovery situation,” Cain said.
While Sandy hit the economy with one crushing blow, the drought has kept its grip on the nation for over a year, spreading from the south across much of the country, with 60 to 65 percent of the continental United States experiencing moderate-to-exceptional drought conditions recently, according to National Weather Service data cited by The Monitor.
“From one extreme to another in just the space of 12, 15, 16 months? It’s just incredible,” Richard Heim, a drought specialist at the National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C., told The Monitor.
Even though winter-weather patterns have cooled much of the nation in recent months, drought conditions continue to plague the nation’s heartland, thanks to unseasonably warm and dry weather patterns.
“We have not seen hardly any rain or snow around the Plains states. It is still very dry,” said Brian Fuchs, climatologist with the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, according to Reuters.
“And with these temperatures when you are having 60 or 70 degrees and high winds … it’s going to be problematic.”
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