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The summer of 2011 has brought about not just massive heat but also massive drought as well.  According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, which is run by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, nearly 40% of the U.S. in July suffered from a lack of rainfall, setting the record for the highest percentage of the U.S. in drought ever recorded.  The U.S. Drought Monitor measures drought on a scale of D0, abnormal dryness, to D4, exceptional drought. 
Texas experienced the worst dryness with three fourths of the state in the D4 range of exceptional drought.  But plenty of other states were hit hard as well. All of New Mexico, Louisiana and Oklahoma found themselves under the dry spell with almost half of each state in D4 range.  Nearly all of South Carolina, Georgia and Arkansas found themselves to be suffering from exceptional drought in July as well.
The U.S. Drought Monitor is maintained by the National Drought Mitigation Center and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.  Although the Monitor has only existed for the past 12 years, over 300 climatologists and other agencies contribute data to the Monitor.  
The U.S. is not the only country suffering from a shortage of rainfall.  Famine has stricken all of the Horn of Africa as a result of extreme dryness.  More than 2.4 million people from Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan and Kenya have been displaced by the ongoing drought and civil war.
In February, the United Nations' Food and Agricultural agency said that 12.75 million of China's 35 million acres of wheat crop were suffering from extreme dryness.  It was the worst drought in more than 50 years and as a result, 2.57 million people and 2.79 million heads of livestock faced water shortages. 
But in June, a heavy downpour ended China's dry spell.  However rather than relief, massive floods resulted in southwestern China killing nine and forcing 6,000 to move.  Now, refugees in the Horn of Africa are suffering through similar circumstances.  Heavy rains flooded refugee camps in Somalia's capital of Mogadishu.
In the U.S., hope for relief lies with the coming Tropical Storm Don. Climatologists hope that the western Gulf Coast states will see some improvement of rainfall. However, rainfall will not mean an end to the drought.  According to the Drought Mitigation Center, those states may only see an improvement of one category from exceptional drought to extreme drought.

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