From dessicating drought to blistering heat, the lower 48 states have taken it on the chin so far this year when it comes to extreme weather events. In fact, as measured by the federal government's Climate Extremes Index, the January-through-September period has been the most extreme such nine-month period on record. The Climate Extremes Index, or CEI, is used to track the highest and lowest 10 percent of extremes in temperature, precipitation, drought, and tropical storms and hurricanes across the lower 48 states. The current index is being driven by the massive drought that is still affecting a whopping 64.6 percent of the country as of Oct. 2, as well as record warm temperatures from the many heat waves throughout the year. The drought is forecast to persist for much of the High Plains and Western States, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).