Current Drought Conditions in the United States

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Rebekah Gates

Water Resources Planner

 

Drought conditions across the United States slightly decreased this week, as the Drought Severity and Coverage Index (DSCI) dropped from 170 to 167. On the US Drought Monitor scale (USDM), abnormal drought conditions (D0), severe drought (D2), extreme drought (D3), and exceptional drought (D4) conditions all decreased, and moderate drought (D1) slightly increased. A large stormfront moved across the eastern United States this week, bringing drought relief to the High Plains, Midwest, and Northeast, as it dropped over 2 inches of rain in some areas. The Midwest, northern New England, and parts of the High Plains saw the most improvement. Meanwhile, dry conditions continued to increase in the South and Southeast as temperatures have been unusually high, and in west Texas and Oklahoma, the elevated winds resulted in high evaporation rates and reduced soil moisture. In the West, the Pacific Northwest and northern California experienced a series of storm events towards the end of October that dropped record-breaking, 24-hr precipitation and led to large improvements in soil moisture and stream flow. The rainfall continued this week, fully eradicating drought in northwest Washington, and washing away some long-lingering drought impacts in parts of Idaho, Nevada, and Utah. The areas of the West that did not receive abundant rainfall continued to deteriorate, however, and avocado production has been reduced by 22% in California, along with stunted winter wheat growth in central Montana where vegetation indices indicate high stress levels.

(The U.S. Drought Monitor is jointly produced by the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the United States Department of Agriculture, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Map courtesy of NDMC-UNL.)

Drought conditions continued to deteriorate in Texas this week, as the state increased from 83 to 101 on the Drought Severity and Coverage Index (DSCI), and below normal precipitation and above normal temperatures continued. Drought conditions worsened from moderate drought (D1) to severe (D2) in northeastern Texas, the Panhandle, west Texas, and along the Rio Grande. High winds have increased the evaporative demand across much of the state, and a wildfire was reported near Rusk County.

(The U.S. Drought Monitor is jointly produced by the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the United States Department of Agriculture, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Map courtesy of NDMC-UNL.)

Conversely, eastern Oklahoma was doused in rainfall this week with many areas experiencing more than 150% of normal precipitation levels, leading to large improvements in the eastern half of the state and completely removing drought in many counties. The status quo of D0 to D3 level drought conditions remained in the western portion of the state, however.

(The U.S. Drought Monitor is jointly produced by the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the United States Department of Agriculture, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Map courtesy of NDMC-UNL.)

Louisiana remained the same this week, with no increases or decreases in drought conditions, and the northern corners of the state remain affected by D0 and D1 level drought.

(The U.S. Drought Monitor is jointly produced by the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the United States Department of Agriculture, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Map courtesy of NDMC-UNL.)

The heavy rainfall that fell over the West this week did not make its way down to New Mexico, where drought conditions slightly increased after a week of above normal temperatures and no precipitation. The state remained mostly the same overall, with an increase in drought in the northeast portion of the state. The harsh D3 level drought conditions remain in the northwest corner of the state.

(The U.S. Drought Monitor is jointly produced by the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the United States Department of Agriculture, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Map courtesy of NDMC-UNL.)

The expanding drought that Georgia experienced last week abated, and the state improved overall in drought conditions, reducing the area of D0 drought to the southeast corner of the state.

(The U.S. Drought Monitor is jointly produced by the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the United States Department of Agriculture, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Map courtesy of NDMC-UNL.)

Florida similarly saw improvements in drought, as the large patch of D0 drought conditions shrunk down to the northeast corner of the state.

(The U.S. Drought Monitor is jointly produced by the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the United States Department of Agriculture, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Map courtesy of NDMC-UNL.)

North Carolina continued to worsen this week, as drought conditions spread inland from the coast and worsened to D1 drought, due to the reduced levels of precipitation and the hotter than normal temperatures.

(The U.S. Drought Monitor is jointly produced by the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the United States Department of Agriculture, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Map courtesy of NDMC-UNL.)

Forecast

Over the next week, the greatest precipitation accumulations in the U.S. are predicted to occur in the Pacific Northwest, northern California down through the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range, the Rockies, and a large swathe of the Midwest down to the upper Southeast. The Southeast coast is predicted to receive some precipitation as well. The Southwest, from lower Nevada and California over to west Texas and Oklahoma, is forecast to receive little to no rain, in addition to central Montana and Wyoming. The upper Northeast is predicted to receive limited showers from Maine down to Connecticut. To check out the forecast near you, try the NOAA Quantitative Precipitation Forecast map.

Recommended Links

Drought Conditions in Texas and the United States

Reservoir Levels in Texas

Streamflow Conditions in Texas

Drought Restrictions in Texas

Additional Information and Data

Drought Conditions in Texas and the United States

Reservoir Levels in Texas

Streamflow Conditions in Texas

Groundwater Levels in Texas

Drought Restrictions in Texas

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Rebekah Gates is a Water Resource Planner in Houston, Texas.