Current Drought Conditions in the United States

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Jordan Skipwith

Water Resources Planner

Drought conditions largely persisted across multiple regions of the United States this week. Overall, the nationwide Drought Severity and Coverage Index (DSCI) slightly grew from 181 to 182, as the total percent coverage of moderate (D1), severe (D2), and extreme (D3) drought conditions increased on U.S. Drought Monitor (USDM) scale. Over the past week, drought conditions moderately declined in portions of the Southwest, southern Great Plains, lower Midwest, and Northeast. Conversely, drought-related conditions sustained across most areas that were previously experiencing conditions and further deteriorated in others, notably in areas of southern California, the southern Great Basin, Texas, Minnesota, and parts of New England.

(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.)

Regions across Texas experienced mixed conditions over this past week. Drought intensified and expanded in the Texas Hill Country and South Plains, as warm and dry conditions continued. Similarly, severe to exceptional drought conditions continued across West Texas. In contrast, precipitation caused some drought-related conditions to improve in portions of the Texas Panhandle and eastern Texas. According to Water Data for Texas (Dec. 21), monitored water supply reservoirs are currently 79.7 percent full, with most reservoirs on the eastern half of the state approximately 80 to 90 percent full, whereas most reservoirs in the western half of the state were generally less than 50 percent full.

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.)

Precipitation during the past week led to reductions in abnormally dry (D0) and moderate drought (D1) conditions in portions of southeastern Oklahoma and the Oklahoma Panhandle.

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.)

Similarly, precipitation (1 to 3 inches) led to a decline of D0 and removal of D1 in northwestern 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.)

Some much needed rainfall was observed in northern New Mexico, which led to some minor reductions in drought conditions. However, nearly the entire state continued to experience severe drought (D2) conditions and more than 50 percent experienced exceptional drought (D4) conditions.

(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.)

Scattered precipitation (~1 to 3 inches) was observed across the Southeast region, notably in areas of northern Georgia and southern Florida. In southern Georgia, precipitation has been below-normal during the past 30-to-90 day period, which has led to further development of D0 conditions.

(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.)

Below-normal precipitation over the past 30-to-90 days also led to further development of D0 conditions in portions of the Florida Panhandle and north-central 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.)

Continuing the trend over the past year, North Carolina remained free of any abnormally dry or drought conditions on the USDM scale.

(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.)

Over the next week, the greatest precipitation accumulations in the continental United States are projected in areas in the Pacific Northwest, Mid-Atlantic, and Northeast. Meanwhile, little to no rainfall is projected throughout regions of the Southwest, southern and central Great Plains, Rocky Mountains, and Great Basin, as well as the western two-thirds of Texas and southern half of California. To check out the forecast near you, try the NOAA Quantitative Precipitation Forecast map.

The website links below include the current drought monitors and other current drought conditions information.

 

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.