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DroughtNOAAWatch Drought Headlines

Despite Improvement, Drought Taking a Toll

Fri, 06 Jun 2014 12:13:40 EDT
Coverage reached its year-to-date peak of 40.06% on May 6, but subsequent rainfall across portions of the nation’s mid-section has slightly reduced drought’s imprint. Nevertheless, drought still covers a substantial portion of the central and southern Plains and the western U.S.. On June 3, the highest level of drought—D4, or exceptional drought—was noted in portions of California (25%), Oklahoma (21%), Texas (9%), Nevada (8%), Kansas (2%), and Colorado (2%). California also led the nation with 77% coverage of extreme to exceptional drought (D3 to D4). In addition, California topped the U.S. with 70% of its rangeland and pastures rated in very poor to poor condition on June 1, according to USDA. Following California were New Mexico, Arizona, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Nevada. Details...

Drought Taking a Toll

Mon, 05 May 2014 18:18:59 EDT
During the four-week period ending on April 29, 2014, contiguous U.S. drought coverage remained virtually unchanged (up 0.06 percentage point) at 38.43%. Nevertheless, drought coverage is at its highest point since October 8, 2013, and up 7.48 percentage points from the beginning of the year. In April, devastatingly dry, dusty, windy conditions on the southern Great Plains fueled concerns of a “New Dust Bowl.” The “Terrible Teens” drought, which for many parts of the southern Great Plains began in the fall of 2010 and has lasted for more than 3˝ years, continued to take a severe toll on rangeland, pastures, and winter wheat. Periodic April storms provided temporary relief to drought-stricken areas from California into the Southwest. April precipitation briefly eased irrigation requirements and aided rain-fed rangeland, pastures, and crops across the nation’s southwestern quadrant, but water-supply prospects for the summer remained bleak. Details...

Storms Ease Western Drought But Much More Precipitation Needed

Fri, 21 Mar 2014 12:18:20 EDT
Drought eased in some areas but encroached into others in the four weeks ending March 4, resulting in a slight overall reduction, to 35.85 percent of the 48 contiguous states, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Storms in late February and early March rolled the portion of California in extreme to exceptional drought (D3-D4) back to 65.89 percent of the state by March 4, from 73.83 percent a week earlier. A blockbuster storm struck California as the calendar turned from February to March, averting a record-breaking season for dryness. The potent storm and a weaker, initial system accounted for more than 75 percent of the season-to-date precipitation in California locations such as Burbank (4.78 of 5.28 inches), downtown Los Angeles (4.52 of 5.72 inches), Camarillo (3.66 of 4.85 inches), and Sandberg (3.04 of 3.93 inches). Details...

California drought intensifies and U.S. drought spreads

Thu, 06 Feb 2014 13:51:06 EST
The area of California in exceptional drought, the worst category, increased across most of San Luis Obispo County on the U.S. Drought Monitor map, and the nation as a whole saw all categories of drought edge upward. Drought in the 48 contiguous states has increased more than 4 percentage points in the last four weeks to 37.38 percent. The extent of the two most serious drought categories—extreme to exceptional (D3 to D4) drought—nearly doubled in the last four weeks from 4.13 to 7.37 percent. That change was driven by deteriorating conditions in California. During the four-week period ending Feb. 4, California’s coverage of extreme to exceptional drought surged from 27.59 to 67.13 percent. By Feb. 4, nearly one-tenth (9.81 percent) of California was considered to be in exceptional drought (D4). The Western winter wet season has largely been a bust, and not just in California. Drought covers more than half of eight of the eleven Western States. Details...

Dry western weather increases U.S. drought coverage

Fri, 10 Jan 2014 14:42:55 EST
Persistent dry conditions in the West led to an expansion of drought in the week that ended Jan. 7, with most of the recent change in Oregon and Washington. The map now shows 33.22 percent of the contiguous 48 states in drought, up from 30.28 percent on Dec. 10, which was the least area in drought for any week of 2013. Most of the recent increase in U.S. drought coverage has been due to a lack of cold-season precipitation in the West. In particular, drought coverage has sharply increased in Oregon, from 38 to 88 percent between Dec. 10 and Jan. 7. Similarly, Washington had no drought depicted on Dec. 10, but more than half (55 percent) of the state was experiencing drought on Jan. 7. Western drought concerns are most acute in those areas—including California—moving deeper into a third consecutive year of drought. Details...

Drought expands in pockets across the U.S.

Fri, 22 Nov 2013 08:16:05 EST
Drought in the U.S. showed a small net expansion in the week that ended Nov. 19, according to the U.S Drought Monitor. The proportion of the lower 48 states in moderate drought or worse increased to 32.45 percent from 31.76 percent a week earlier. The areas in severe, extreme and exceptional drought also showed small increases. Parts of the Northeast have seen a two-class degradation over the past four weeks, with moderate drought jumping from 3.27 percent to 7.79 percent since the beginning of November. Out west, extreme drought in California jumped from 11.36 percent to 27.59 percent over the past week. States with areas where drought expanded or intensified included Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, Texas, Oklahoma, California, New Mexico and Arizona. States with areas where drought receded included Texas, Iowa, Illinois, Hawaii and Alaska. Details...

Drought Recedes in Central States, Holds on in West

Fri, 18 Oct 2013 06:46:00 EDT
After a wet week across much of the central and eastern United States, drought receded to its smallest spatial extent since May 2012 on the Oct. 15 U.S. Drought Monitor. Drought in the western states was mostly unchanged. The map shows just 36.71 percent of the contiguous United States in moderate drought or worse, compared with 38.59 percent a week earlier. The last time drought coverage was this low was May 29, 2012, at 37.37 percent. Drought eased incrementally across the Midwest, Great Plains and South, including parts of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Arkansas. Colorado and Wyoming also had areas of improvement. An exception to the general improvement was a small area in central Arkansas that got worse. Details...

Rapid expansion in Upper Midwest drought coverage

Fri, 30 Aug 2013 07:05:48 EDT
High temperatures and little rain led to an unusually rapid widespread expansion of drought across the Upper Midwest. The proportion of the contiguous United States in moderate drought or worse increased to 50.04 percent, a leap from 45.61 percent a week earlier. This is the first time since April 9 that drought has covered more than half of the continental United States. Moderate drought expanded across a large area of Minnesota and parts of the Dakotas and Wisconsin, and from Iowa and Missouri into Illinois. New areas of severe drought appeared in Iowa, Missouri and Nebraska and severe drought expanded in Arkansas and Louisiana, pushing into Mississippi, bringing the total area in severe drought to 33.37 percent of the continental United States, up slightly from 32.23 percent a week earlier. Details...

Drought Expands, Rains Bring Patchy Relief

Fri, 19 Jul 2013 08:20:07 EDT
Drought expanded over the United States in the week that ended July 16, 2013, although much-needed rains brought improvements to some of the hardest-hit areas. For the 48 contiguous states, U.S. drought coverage increased 1.28 percent in the last week to 46.13 percent. This represents the greatest U.S. drought coverage since May 14. However, coverage is still down 14.96 percentage points since the beginning of 2013 and down 19.32 points from the record high of 65.45 percent on September 25, 2012. Monsoon rains brought short-term relief to some of the worst areas, slightly easing the intensity of drought in New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado. Drought expanded slightly in Kansas and intensified in western Nebraska. Farther west, in Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Nevada and California, drought expanded and intensified. Texas and Oklahoma had a small increase in the total area in moderate drought or worse but decreases in the other categories of drought. Details...

Drought intensified in the Southwest, Alaska and Hawaii

Mon, 01 Jul 2013 12:40:14 EDT
Expanding drought in Alaska and Hawaii meant that statistics for the 48 contiguous states and for the country as a whole diverged slightly. For all 50 states and Puerto Rico, the proportion of the area in moderate drought or worse increased to 38.12 percent, from 37.76 percent a week earlier. For the 48 contiguous states, the area in moderate drought decreased to 43.84 percent from 44.77 percent. New Mexico continues to forge into uncharted territory, with data showing the past 12 months to be the driest on record for the state coupled with the past 24 and 36 months coming in as the second driest on record. In California, severe drought expanded this week across the Sacramento Valley to cover 92.61 percent of the state. Severe drought also expanded across Nevada, with 86.4 percent of the state now in severe drought or worse. Drought also intensified slightly in Arizona and Colorado. Details...

Decrease Shown in Drought

Fri, 07 Jun 2013 07:14:55 EDT
The drought that now blankets all but the northernmost of the western United States eased in the High Plains but intensified in the Southwest in the week that ended June 4, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Heavy rains in the Great Plains, Midwest and northern areas of the West brought improvements in those areas. Worsening conditions in other parts of the West reflected the dry winter and spring months. The area of the 48 continental states in moderate drought or worse declined to 44.11 percent from 44.34 percent a week earlier, according to statistics released with the map, with the area in severe drought showing the greatest change, to 28.49 percent from 29.56 percent. The area in exceptional drought, the worst category, increased slightly, to 4.79 percent, from 4.74 percent, with most of the increase occurring in west central Texas. Details...

Drought intensifies in the West, eases in the East

Fri, 03 May 2013 07:11:19 EDT
The footprint of drought on the U.S. Drought Monitor map shifted south and west during the week that ended April 30, intensifying in southeast Colorado, New Mexico and other spots. Statistics released with the map showed a decrease in the overall area of the 48 contiguous states in moderate drought or worse, to 46.90 percent, from 47.34 percent the week before, but some areas intensified. The area in severe drought or worse increased, to 32.73 percent, from 31.75 percent the area in extreme drought or worse decreased to 13.96 percent, from 14.72 percent and the area in exceptional drought increased to 3.4 percent from 2.59 percent. Drought coverage is now down 14.19 percentage points since the beginning of 2013 and down 18.55 points from the record high of 65.45 percent on September 25, 2012. Details...

Drought shifts west as heavy rains drench the Midwest

Fri, 26 Apr 2013 06:32:47 EDT
The U.S. Drought Monitor showed drought shifting incrementally to the west on the map for the week that ended April 23, as drought-busting rains drenched the Midwest. Flooding has now replaced drought as the Midwest’s greatest imminent concern. The Mississippi River rose to one of its five highest levels on record from just south of Moline, Illinois, to just north of St. Louis, Missouri. Farther west, rain and snow continued to chip away at long-term drought across the eastern Plains, but drought remained entrenched in most areas from California to the High Plains. Details...

Drought Outlook

Thu, 21 Mar 2013 14:18:45 EDT
Fifty-one percent of the continental U.S., primarily in the central and western regions, is in moderate to exceptional drought. Drought conditions are expected to persist with new drought development in California, the Southwest, the southern Rockies, Texas, and Florida. The outlook favors some improvement in the Midwest, the northern and central Great Plains, Georgia, the Carolinas, and northern Alaska. Details...

Rains ease drought in South and Southeast

Fri, 22 Feb 2013 10:13:23 EST
Drought improved in central and southern Georgia and South Carolina and in south Florida, as well as eastern Texas, the Texas Panhandle and central Arizona. Drought got worse in northern and central Florida, south Texas and the Oklahoma Panhandle, and a new area of abnormal dryness, the precursor to drought, was introduced in northern California. Drought over the Plains was unchanged. Over the next week to ten days, several storm systems are anticipated to come out of the Southwest and onto the Plains. The moisture associated with these storms may not make it into the frozen ground, but the runoff associated with them will improve some of the reservoir, pond, and lake levels that are also hurting. The winter precipitation deficits are so great throughout the Plains that as we get closer to the spring thaw, we would need several storms to make a significant dent in the ongoing drought. Details...

Rains Ease Drought Across the Country

Fri, 08 Feb 2013 07:25:57 EST
Drought eased slightly in parts of the country from Hawaii to Virginia, intensified in other areas, and was nearly unchanged over the hardest-hit areas of the Plains, in the week that ended Feb. 5, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. A powerful storm Jan. 29 and 30 brought much-needed precipitation to the Southeast and to parts of the South and southern Plains. Precipitation eased drought in some parts of the Midwest, particularly in areas where soils were not frozen and moisture could seep into the ground. Snowpack improved in some areas but is still below normal in much of the West. All Hawaiian islands have seen some improvement in drought after two weeks of good rain. Some states saw drought ease in some areas but intensify in others. Drought eased in western Colorado but intensified in the eastern part of the state, while in Oklahoma, drought intensified in the Panhandle but eased to the east. Details...

Drought Decreases, But Holds on in Plains

Wed, 23 Jan 2013 07:59:05 EST
Drought declined across the United States as winter weather brought snow and rain in the week that ended Jan. 15, although a few areas continued to intensify, according to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor map. The area of the entire United States plus Puerto Rico shown in moderate drought or worse declined to 49.57 percent from 50.74 percent the week before the area in severe or worse drought declined to 33.72 percent from 34.89 percent the area in extreme drought shrunk to 16.22 percent from 17.4 percent the preceding week. This week’s map shows improvements in north-central and northwest Arkansas, northwestern Georgia, western North Carolina, Virginia, south and southeast Missouri, and the Texas Panhandle. It shows worsening drought in southern Georgia, northern Florida, north-central Oklahoma, and Colorado. There was minimal change in the High Plains, where exceptional drought has been centered over Nebraska for several months. Details...

Half the Country Still in Moderate Drought Conditions

Thu, 01 Nov 2012 12:37:43 EDT
The remnant of Hurricane Sandy erased all moderate drought and abnormally dry conditions in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, with the exception of areas of central Virginia and upstate New York. Statistics released with the U.S. Drought Monitor map showed that 50.35 percent of the country was in moderate drought or worse, down slightly from 51.71 percent the week before. The map showed 32.01 percent in severe drought or worse, down from 32.32 percent a week earlier 15.92 percent in extreme drought or worse, down from 16.32 percent the week before and 4.91 percent in exceptional drought, an increase from 4.88 the preceding week. As of Oct. 30, 4.97 percent of the Northeast was categorized as abnormally dry, and there was no drought in the area. Details...

USDA Drought Disaster Update

Wed, 12 Sep 2012 10:55:33 EDT
The United States Department of Agriculture Drought Portal provides resources and information related to the current drought crisis from across the Government. Throughout much of the country, communities are struggling with one of the worst droughts to strike the U.S. in decades. The lack of rain and high temperatures have done considerable damage to crops -- particularly those in the Midwest. USDA and other federal agencies are taking steps to help farmers, ranchers, and small businesses wrestling with this crisis. Details...

National Drought Summary

Thu, 23 Aug 2012 10:56:00 EDT
This U.S. Drought Monitor week saw a few notable improvements and some serious degradation. Temperatures have generally been below normal this week from the east side of the Rockies to the East Coast, with the exception of Texas, the Southeast Coast, and northern New England. This has helped ease drought impacts, particularly in those areas where beneficial precipitation fell. One such area is in the Ohio Valley where parts of Indiana saw more than five inches of rain. This is the second straight week of beneficial precipitation for some of these areas and this precipitation has largely alleviated Exceptional Drought from the state, despite lingering impacts still being felt. Last week, drought gripped slightly less of the agricultural land in the country with 85% of the U.S. corn crop, 83% of soybeans, 63% of hay, and 71% of cattle areas experiencing drought. Details...

U.S. Department of Agriculture Drought information

Wed, 01 Aug 2012 09:12:02 EDT
The USDA offers disaster and drought assistance information from their drought web portal - Details...

California Drought Getting Federal Attention

Thu, 13 Aug 2009 10:32:55 EDT
California's ongoing water crisis is a major national priority, akin to restoring Florida's Everglades or the Chesapeake Bay on the East Coast, a top Obama administration official said Wednesday. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar intends to hold a public meeting in Washington next month to discuss plans to save the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, the freshwater estuary that supplies drinking water to two-thirds of Californians and is one of the most important wildlife habitats on the West Coast, Deputy Interior Secretary David Hayes said. Hayes was in Sacramento to update farmers, city dwellers and environmentalists about federal efforts to free up water for crops and fisheries as the state hobbles through its third year of drought. Details...

Seasonal drought outlook

Thu, 06 Mar 2008 11:10:35 EST
The Southeastern drought region should continue to see improvement, with the best odds for relief extending across the northern part of the drought area as well as along the coast. More limited improvement is expected over the longer run in the southern parts of the drought region due to seasonal forecasts of drier weather by April. Farther west, drought is forecast to persist over central Texas and in the western Oklahoma Panhandle region, with the odds still favoring expansion into west Texas and eastern New Mexico. Forecasts for drier weather have led to the Outlook showing persisting drought over southern California and southern Nevada, although deep mountain snow pack will boost water supplies this spring. Details...

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