Yesterday, widespread drought led the Department of Agriculture to declare 1,016 counties in 26 states disaster areas. Or, in map form:

So, basically half the country? Super.

A county is subject to disaster area designation if the U.S. Drought Monitor determines that the county has suffered from severe drought for eight consecutive weeks. In other words, the entire region in the map above has suffered from severe drought for two months. The Drought Monitor even has a helpful little six-week animation of how the United States has completely dried up and crumbled into parched dust.

Click for animation.

Capital Weather Gang notes that this is the worst drought in 12 years. Bloomberg News explains the significance of the USDA’s declaration:

The declaration makes farmers and ranchers in 1,016 counties — about a third of those in the entire country — eligible for low-interest loans to help them weather the drought, wildfires and other disasters, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said today. The USDA is also changing procedures to allow disaster claims to be processed more quickly and reducing the penalty ranchers are assessed for allowing livestock to graze on land set aside for conservation. …