(Reuters) - Broiling heat blanketed much of the Midwest on Tuesday, exacerbating the region's worst drought in more than 50 years and devastating corn, soy and other vital crops.
From Chicago to St. Louis to Omaha, Nebraska, temperatures eclipsed 100 degrees Fahrenheit and the National Weather Service (NWS) issued heat advisories across Midwest and mid-Atlantic states.
Many of the NWS heat advisories don't expire until next week. Temperatures in Kansas City, Kansas for instance, are expected to hit 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius) on Wednesday.
The current drought is the worst since 1956, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said in a report posted on its website.
In Iowa, Gov. Terry Branstad convened a hearing to discuss the drought and its effect on the state's pork industry, which relies heavily on corn feed.
"It's important that we do all we can to help people through this difficult time," Branstad told local radio station KILJ. "And obviously more rain would help."
About 55 percent of the contiguous United States is in a drought, just as corn plants should be pollinating, a period when adequate moisture is crucial. The United States ships more than half of all world exports of corn, which is made into dozens of products, from starch and ethanol to livestock feed.
"We're moving from a crisis to a horror story," said Purdue University agronomist Tony Vyn. "I see an increasing number of fields that will produce zero grain."