Drought Update Across the United States (Credit: NOAA Climate.gov, United States Drought Monitor,Climate Prediction Center)
Discussion: In the southwestern United States, drought conditions have gone from abnormally dry to extreme in a span of six months. Some states across the Southern Plains received less than 100 percent of their average monthly precipitation this winter. In the Northeast, Midwest, and Southeast these states saw some relief in drought conditions as they experienced some significant rainfall and snowfall events. According to the U.S. Drought monitor, 36% of the country is experiencing some level of drought.
The drought map, which is made by the National Drought Mitigation Center, bases the level of drought on 4 levels ranging from D0 (abnormally dry) to D4 (exceptional drought). Levels of D3 drought, which is extreme drought, still linger across the Texas Panhandle, Oklahoma, and into some parts of the Four Corners. he Climate Prediction Center has released their drought outlook for the month valid from February to March and it shows that conditions are likely to remain the same across the southwestern United States while in parts of Montana and the Carolinas drought starts to improve a. Overall the seasonal outlook which is valid from February to May shows that drought will remain in parts of the southwest but conditions will start to improve and in parts of Montana and the southeast drought conditions are likely to be gone.
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© 2018 Meteorologist Shannon Scully
DISCUSSION: One year later and effects of drought are still seen amid the possibility of decreasing drought conditions due to 2016-2017 winter rain season in California. Although California has seen drought difficulties recently which amount to extreme burn scars, flash flooding, mud and landslides, some benefit has come from this yearly comparison.
Comparing the January 31st, 2017 monitor to the January 30th, 2018 monitor, the light at the end of the tunnel is still no observable D4, exceptional drought index seen within the state. There has also been a decrease in D3-D4 drought down 1.87 % to zero this week, D2-D4 decrease of 15.38%, and D1-D4 decrease of 7.08%. The drought monitor is indicating an increase in at least D0 (abnormally dry) areas within California, extending to a large portion of the state at nearly 73.33%.
This abnormally dry area is attributed to nearly 6+ months of drier weather impacting, “California and Nevada northward across the Great Basin to Oregon and southern Idaho,” according to Richard Heim, NOAA/NCEI. Reports are indicating some difficulties for livestock ranchers with decreasing forage and water supplies especially due to deceased snowpack and dried vegetation. Heim states we are seeing weather patterns, “typical of spring than mid-winter.” However, despite some increased D0 conditions California has fared well in dryness management given landscape and water resources.
For more information on drought impacts, please visit the Global Weather and Climate Center!
©2018 Meteorologist Jessica Olsen