OK, so this drought. I made a joke a while ago about how Gristmill could just turn into the all-drought headquarters ha ha ha because the drought was so bad. That was a month ago. Since then, the drought has gotten worse. It’s so bad now that the official law office of America should be Drought, Drought & Bobbitt — which is a real firm in San Antonio. San Antonio’s Bexar County, like every other county in Texas, is a disaster area due to drought. (Drought, Drought & Bobbitt is doing its part by representing oil companies.)

Anyway. Here’s America, as of yesterday [PDF]!

The latest drought map. It’s different from the last one, we promise. (Click to embiggen.)

The red bits are the counties that have been declared disaster areas. It’s kind of like that game Pandemic, where everyone sees the plague creeping up on them. “Madagascar County has closed its borders.” That sort of thing. Seventeen states have been designated as disaster areas in their entirety, with Illinois and Iowa just succumbing this week. South Carolina is near full contagion; Minnesota is looking south with a tangible sense of concern.

Because the situation is so remorselessly and unrelentingly dire and because there is so much of it, we figured we’d create our own drought-assessment index, which ranks a slew of news stories on several key metrics.