The current drought pattern may be the costliest U.S. natural disaster of 2012 and 2013, according to experts with Harris-Mann Climatology. The long-range weather, commodity and stock forecasting service released their annual summer outlook last week, and the news wasn’t good for much of the Corn Belt.

Drought damage could top $200 billion“The drought in the Southwest is expected to move and expand eastward over the central and southern Great Plains, as well as at least the western Midwest, by late June or July. Flooded areas near the Missouri River are likely to turn to the opposite extreme of dryness later this summer season," Long-term climatologist and forecaster Cliff Harris said in a news release.

The company also expects drought to return to the Great Plains and western Midwest within the next six weeks.

If the drought pattern continues, its damage estimates could be near $200 billion, making it the country’s costliest natural disaster of 2012 and 2013– even more costly than Hurricane Sandy.

“We’re still in a pattern of wild weather ‘extremes,’ the worst in more than 1,000 years, since the days of Leif Ericsson. For example, 2012 was the warmest year ever for the U.S., but on January 22, 2013, there was a record for the most ice and snow across the Northern Hemisphere continent,” Harris added.

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The Harris-Mann Climatology outlook is the first to show the drought growing to the east. The National Weather Service’s U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook, updated on May 16, shows drought improving or leaving much of the central Plains and areas east of the Mississippi River. The National Weather Service Outlook also sees a dry and hot summer, though the Southwest is the target for the driest and hottest forecast of the summer. Click here for more.