Drought 2012

Published in the November 2012 Issue Published online: Nov 08, 2012 Tyler J. Baum, Editor
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I tend to blame myself for the weather patterns.

Last winter, my wife gave me cross-country skis for Christmas. As a result, we didn't get much snow after that-I was only able to use them three times. On the flip side, the handful of times I put up my hammock this past summer, rain clouds would magically decide to drop in for a visit. So in order to protect the hammock, I'd take it down again. Then the clouds would conveniently scatter. One time I actually left my hammock out all night, and sure enough, it rained quite a bit during the night.

So how bad was this year's drought?

Some reports say it's the worst drought in the United States in 56 years. According to Reuters and the U.S. Drought Monitor, as of September 18 the drought expanded in the Upper Midwest and Northern Plains states due to warmer- and drier-than-normal weather, but loosened its grip on some central and southern areas of the country. Nearly 65 percent of the contiguous states were under at least "moderate" drought.

However, the portions of the country under "exceptional" drought seemed to be outside most potato-producing areas. In August, the United States Potato Board released a statement to the press, with USPB Chair Sid Staunton saying at the onset of harvest that supply was good (a little too good?). Because of that, the drought hadn't yet affected potatoes.

Air quality wasn't real nice either, at least for Idahoans. Because of all the wildfires in the state that never let up this year, the third week of September much of eastern and southern Idaho as well as parts of eastern Oregon were either rated, "Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups," or even "Unhealthy" by state Departments of Environmental Quality. There were times in September the smoke was so thick in the Idaho Falls area, we couldn't see the foothills.

So what about next year? Will we get the precipitation we need this winter? If we don't, how will the 2013 crop fare?

Only time will tell, but back in August the people at Farmers' Almanac were predicting the eastern half of the country will see plenty of cold and snow, while the western half will experience relatively warm and dry conditions-mild temperatures and below-normal precipitation for the Pacific Northwest.

Maybe I'll set up my hammock and leave it out all winter, see if that does anything.