NEW YORK STATE -- Officials in Albany have now banned all outdoor burning until October 10th, because of the extremely dry weather we've had for the pasts month. Gov. Cuomo also urged all New Yorkers to be extra careful when building a campfire, or when extinguishing a cigarette.
In a statement, Cuomo said "these conditions should not be taken lightly. The potential for disastrous wildfires is present in all areas of the state and we must do whatever we can to prevent fires from occurring. The state will continue to closely monitor the wildfire danger and we will deploy whatever resources are necessary to protect New Yorkers should a critical situation occur."
Many areas of New York have received only 25 percent of their normal spring and early-summer rainfall.
It's now being called the worst drought in the United States since 1988, and there is growing fear that 2012 could prove to one of the driest years ever recorded in this country. It's also been a much hotter summer than normal, making the extremely dry weather even more problematic.
More than half the country is now under drought conditions, according to the USDA; disaster areas have been declared in 26 states, and corn and other grain prices are going up substantially. Farmers in the Midwest are having a very tough time -- more than 80 percent of Missouri and Indiana now under official drought conditions.
Below is a map, from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, on the current drought areas in the U.S. ...
Cover photo by Sharon Apted