Current Drought Conditions in the United States

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Jordan Skipwith

Water Resources Planner

Drought conditions have slightly declined across the United States this past month. Overall, the nationwide Drought Severity and Coverage Index (DSCI) has fallen from 171 to 166 over the last four weeks, as the total percent coverage of abnormally dry (D0), severe (D2), extreme (D3) and exceptional (D4) drought conditions decreased on U.S. Drought Monitor (USDM) scale. The coverage of severe drought (D2) slightly increased. Over the past month, drought conditions declined across portions of the Southeast, lower Midwest, Central Great Plains, Rocky Mountains, and Northwest. Areas of southwest Texas and northern New York State also experienced some improvements in drought conditions. Conversely, drought-related conditions sustained across most areas that were previously experiencing conditions and further degraded in others. Drought conditions increased in regions of the upper Midwest and Northern Great Plains, as well as parts of southern California, central Nevada, northern Ohio, southern Mississippi, south-central Florida, southern Oklahoma, and much of Texas.

US Drought Monitor March 2021

(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.)

US Drought Monitor March 2021 - Class Change

(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.)

Texas

Precipitation deficits and dryness over this past month caused drought-related conditions to expand and intensify across most regions of Texas. The statewide DSCI increased from 162 at the beginning of February to 187 at the beginning of March, as the statewide coverage of D0, D1, D2, D3, and D4 conditions all increased. Drought conditions notably increased in areas of South Texas, the Texas Gulf Coast, East Texas, North Texas, and the Texas Panhandle, while conditions sustained across Central Texas. In contrast, portions of southwest and West Texas received above-normal precipitation, which led to some improvements in drought conditions.

US Drought Monitor March 2021 - Texas

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.)

Oklahoma

Drought conditions (D0 to D3) increased in Oklahoma over the past month (statewide DSCI grew from 39 to 51). Increases occurred in areas of the Oklahoma Panhandle and south central and southeast Oklahoma. Meanwhile, drought conditions mostly continued in western Oklahoma.

US Drought Monitor March 2021 - Oklahoma

(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

Drought conditions mostly improved in Louisiana over this past month. The statewide coverage of D0 has declined by nearly 22 percent since the beginning of February. However, D0 and D1 conditions persist in parts of northeastern Louisiana and southeastern Louisiana along the Gulf Coast.

US Drought Monitor March 2021 - Louisiana

(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.)

New Mexico

In New Mexico, normal to below-normal precipitation over this past month has led to minimal changes in drought conditions. Overall, nearly the entire state continues to be impacted by severe drought (D2) conditions, with over 54 percent experiencing exceptional drought (D4) conditions.

US Drought Monitor March 2021 - New Mexico
(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.)

Georgia

Since the beginning of February, normal to above-normal precipitation across central and southern Georgia led to the removal of D0 conditions across most of the state.

US Drought Monitor March 2021 - Georgia

(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, above-normal precipitation in areas of northern, east-central, and far southern Florida led to the removal of D0 conditions this past month. Overall, the percent coverage of D0 across Florida decreased by over 40 percent since the beginning of February.

US Drought Monitor March 2021 - Florida

 (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

Above-normal precipitation across North Carolina over this past month led to the removal of all previously existing D0 conditions in the state.

US Drought Monitor March 2021 - North Carolina

(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 continental United States are projected across the southern and central Great Plains and lower Midwest. Meanwhile, little to no rainfall is projected throughout much of the Southeast, southern New England, northern Great Plains, and northern Rocky Mountains, as well as areas of South Texas, West Texas, and New Mexico. To check out the forecast near you, try the NOAA Quantitative Precipitation Forecast map.

(Image of the NOAA Quantitative Precipitation Forecast map tool, developed by Freese and Nichols, Inc. Data used in this tool is obtained from the NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) Climate Data Online (CDI) database. This image was captured on March 10, 2021).

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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Jordan Skipwith, EIT, CFM, is a Water Resources Planner in our Houston office.