Published On: Jul 16 2012 10:23:12 AM CDTUpdated On: Feb 27 2014 03:20:46 PM CST
President Barack Obama is traveling to California and announce a new federal initiative aimed at helping farms and communities there in the grips of a devastating drought. Here are some other memorable dry spells through the years.
1930s Dust Bowl -- Perhaps the most infamous drought in U.S. history, the "Dirty Thirties" dried up millions of acres of farmland, spawned huge dust storms and forced families from their homes across the country for nearly six years.
1950s Drought -- The Great Plans and Southwest suffered withstood a five-year drought during this time, and conditions stretched from coast to coast during three of those years. Texas was hit particularly hard.
1960s Northeast Drought -- This devastating drought lasted almost four to five years and stretched from Virginia to upstate New York. Some Midwestern states were also affected.
1983 Midwest Drought -- Very dry conditions, severe heat and stunted crop growth caused by this drought caused particular hardship among Midwestern corn farmers. Water shortages were also reported, and many trees and bushes went into dormancy.
1988 Drought -- The three-year drought of the late 1980s covered 36 percent of the United States at its peak, according to the NOAA, and remains the costliest drought in U.S. history.
1999 Northeast Drought -- The Northeast -- including Kentucky, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland -- were pummeled by extensive heat waves which killed almost 700 people and caused billions of dollars in destruction.
2002 Drought -- The Midwest and Rocky Mountain states fell victim to this drought, sparking a treacherous wildfire season and mandatory water restrictions in Denver and other Western cities.
2008-11 California Drought -- Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's official drought declaration in 2008 was the state's first since 1991. Extreme water restrictions resulted, and billions of agricultural losses were reported, particularly in the San Joachin Valley.
2011 Texas Drought -- The state experienced its driest 12-month period on record during this time, sparking massive wildfires and causing a record $7.6 billion in crop and livestock losses.
2012 Drought -- The lower Midwest and southern Rockies experienced drought conditions not seen since 1956, sparking record wildfires in Colorado and voluntary water restrictions. An ongoing heat wave baked much of the nation that summer.