Nancy Gardner at the Omaha World-Herald has done a nice job of placing the current US drought into context:
[W]hile a federal report released earlier this week ranks this as the largest drought in the lower 48 states since 1956, Fuchs cautions against making too many comparisons to the droughts of the 1950s and 1930s.
Those were decades that saw successive dry years, with cumulative impacts that were more severe than the nation is now experiencing, he said. Also, the U.S. has developed better farming practices and policies that protect against some of the devastation experienced by previous generations.
A better comparison, especially when it comes to the impact on agriculture, is the 1988 drought, he said.