Triple-Digit Temps Threaten Nation's Crops

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The fourth heat wave of the summer is being forecast for this week. That means sizzling temperatures reaching more than 100 degrees, high humidity, and more severe storms.

Currently, heat advisories are in effect for 13 states, from the Plains to the East Coast Monday.

The news comes after severe storms tore across several states Sunday night. Two men are dead in Texas after running for cover during a soccer match.

"I heard what sounded like a bomb go off, and I looked to my left, and I see the lightning strike, hit the top of the tree, go all the way down to the person to the ground," Harris County Sherriff's Deputy Joe Shriver recalled.

In other states the sudden storms caused flooding. Parts of Connecticut got four inches of rain overnight.

Still, much of the country remains in a terrible drought. The heat wave has only made those conditions worse.

Disaster areas have been declared in more than a thousand counties and 26 states, making it the largest natural disaster area in U.S. history.  

"This is about as bad as I've seen," one farmer remarked.

Farmer Steve Pitstick predicted, "2012 is probably going to surpass any of those and be the biggest historic event that we have." 

Farmers in the disaster areas now have access to federal aid. Half of the nation's pastures and ranges are in poor or very poor condition according to the drought monitor.

"I assume some day it will rain," one Illinois farmer said. "But we are running out of time."

As the drought continues, more and more crops are being destroyed, setting the stage for higher food prices.    

"All of our stuff is pretty much burned up," Wisconsin farmer Tim Pierce said. "We've had to buy other stuff, import produce, had to do a lot of watering to try keep things from dying and increase prices. It's made it real difficult."

Corn crops are among those hit the hardest. A percentage of the nation's corn is used to make ethanol, which is used to make gasoline. That could mean that as food prices increase, the price at the pump may rise as well.

The drought is also affecting local food banks and community kitchens. Organizers say they are all but out of fresh local produce.

Farmers usually donate their extra crops. But this year they say they just don't have anything to give.

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