Thursday, April 26, 2018

National Drought Mitigation Center

Drought and Climate for July 2016: Drought now found in most regions of the country

Access the latest monthly drought outlook from NOAA's Climate Prediction Center.
The two maps above are from the High Plains Regional Climate Center.
Find these and other products related to the U.S. Drought Monitor on the USDM website.

By Deborah Bathke, NDMC Climatologist


Drought expanded and intensified during July, with 21.12 percent of the contiguous United States in drought on August 2 compared to 16.18 percent at the end of June.  Dryness deteriorated and drought was introduced or intensified in nearly all regions, with only a handful of states (Arizona, Iowa, Minnesota, and New Jersey) seeing improvement.  Overall, moderate drought increased from 16.18 to 21.12 percent of the CONUS; severe drought decreased slightly, from 5.43 to 7.28 percent; extreme drought improved slightly, from 2.36 to 2.89 percent; and exceptional drought maintained status quo.  Drought conditions improved across Hawaii and remained constant in Alaska and Puerto Rico.  At the beginning of August, approximately 100.9 million people were being impacted by drought, compared to approximately 81.4 million people at the end of June.

Drought Outlook

During the month of August, an active monsoon season is likely to cause the improvement or removal of drought conditions over much of Arizona and western New Mexico.  Other areas forecast to see relief include the northern Great Plains, the central Great Lakes region, and the tristate region of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Outside of the CONUS, drought removal is anticipated in Puerto Rico and the windward areas of Hawaii.  Meanwhile, the abnormally dry conditions over eastern Washington, the Idaho Panhandle, and central and south Texas are forecast to deteriorate and push those areas into drought.  Elsewhere in the CONUS, existing drought conditions are expected to persist. 


Temperatures in July were generally above normal for most of the eastern and southern CONUS.  The largest departures were recorded in eastern New Mexico and West Texas, with temperatures ranging from 4 to 8 degrees above normal.  In the rest of the country, temperatures in much of the Pacific Northwest and northern Plains were generally near to below normal, with departures ranging from 0 to 4 degrees below normal.


July brought above-normal precipitation to parts of the Plains states and the Mississippi Valley.  The greatest departures, in excess of 12 inches above normal, occurred over western Kentucky and near the boundary of Oklahoma, Missouri, and Arkansas.   Precipitation in much of the West and Southwest was near normal to 3 inches below normal.  The greatest rainfall shortages occurred in the South, with parts of Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, and Texas recording monthly totals that were 3 to 6 inches below their normal value for July.


Regional Overviews


Temperatures across the Northeast in July ranged from near normal to more than 4 degrees above normal.  Precipitation was more variable.  Locations in New Jersey and parts of Maryland recorded monthly totals in excess of 150 percent of normal while locations in Massachusetts, southern New Hampshire, western and northern New York, and central Pennsylvania were dry, having received less than 50 percent of their normal precipitation amounts.  The dry conditions increased drought overall across the region, with 27.28 percent of the region now in moderate drought compared to 12.43 percent at the end of June. Severe drought was also introduced in July and now covers 11.01 percent of the region.


In July, temperatures across much of the Southeast were above normal, with many locations recording mean temperature departures 3-5 degrees above normal.  All states in the region had multiple locations where the mean temperature fell within the top ten warmest on record. Precipitation varied greatly across the region.  The driest locations, which included parts of Georgia, parts of central Alabama, the Florida Panhandle, and the eastern coast of the Florida Peninsula, recorded rainfall totals that were 3-6 inches below average (5-50 percent of normal).  The wettest locations, which included parts of North Carolina, eastern South Carolina, eastern Virginia, and northern Alabama, recorded rainfall totals that were 3-6 inches above average (130-200 percent of normal).  Drought expanded and now covers 20.61 percent of the region, compared to 17.22 percent at the end of June.  Severe drought also expanded to cover 11.72 percent of the region, compared to 8.67 percent at the beginning of June.  Extreme drought also expanded in Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina and now covers 3.27 percent of the region, compared to 0.53 percent at the end of June.

Movers & Shakers for June 2016

Percent area June 28, 2016

Percent area August 2, 2016 Status Percentage point change
Biggest increases in drought
Alabama 15.14
Severe 3.19
Arizona 59.42
Connecticut 40.33
99.26 Moderate 58.93
Moderate 10.39
Extreme 10.56
Louisiana 1.69
Michigan 0
New Hampshire
New Mexico
New York
 44.67 Moderate
North Carolina 
Ohio 0
 21.05 Moderate
Rhode Island
South Carolina
Severe 7.15
South Dakota
Moderate 10.09
 14.37 Severe
Extreme 4.26
Severe 7.02
Moderate 4.04
 11.56 14.83
Biggest improvements in drought
Arizona 7.99
Hawaii 43.74 13.83 Moderate 29.91
16.45 2.71 Moderate
New Jersey
 24.35 Moderate


Above-normal temperatures prevailed over the southern and eastern parts of the region, with departures in the range of 2-4 degrees above normal in July.  A band of below-normal temperatures stretched from southern Minnesota, over much of Iowa and northern Missouri, and across parts of Illinois and Indiana.  Precipitation in the Midwest was above normal in most locations.  The wettest spots, in southern Missouri, southern Illinois, and western Kentucky, recorded totals of 6 inches or more above normal. The driest areas, located in northern Minnesota, northwest Iowa, northern Missouri, northeast Indiana, and northern Ohio, had monthly totals that fell below 50 percent of normal.  Throughout July, drought decreased in Minnesota and Iowa and increased in Michigan and Ohio.  Final percentages show that the overall drought area in the Midwest increased in July and now covers 5.86 percent of the region, compared to 3.40 percent at the end of June.

High Plains

Conditions across the High Plains varied in terms of temperature and precipitation.  The western High Plains experienced warm, dry conditions.  Locations in south central Colorado recorded mean temperatures that fell within the top ten warmest on record, with departures of 3-5 degrees above normal.  Meanwhile, precipitation was also below normal in the western part of the region, with departures 0-3 inches below normal.  In contrast, much of the eastern High Plains logged monthly values that were cooler and wetter than normal.  Monthly mean temperatures in central and north central Nebraska were 3-5 degrees above normal while elsewhere temperatures were near normal to 2 degrees below normal. Drought expanded and now covers 13.36 percent of the region, compared to 9.19 percent at the beginning of June. Severe drought increased from 1.82 to 4.04 percent.  Expansion of extreme drought in eastern Wyoming and western South Dakota increased this drought category from 0.28 to 1.48 percent of the High Plains, respectively.


Above-normal temperatures were common over most of the South in July.  Locations in West Texas had monthly average temperatures of up to 8 degrees above normal.  The exceptions were in central Louisiana, where temperatures were 2-6 degrees below normal.  Precipitation varied from departures of up to 12 inches above normal over the tristate boundary of Oklahoma, Missouri, and Arkansas to 6 inches below normal along coastal Texas.  Drought expanded in July and now covers 11.80 percent of the region, compared to 6.23 percent at the end of June.  Severe drought expanded into Mississippi, Texas, and Oklahoma, increasing from 0.45 to 3.61 percent of the region.  A small region of extreme drought was introduced in southern Tennessee and northern Mississippi and now covers 0.25 percent of the region. 


July in the West brought below-normal temperatures to the Pacific Northwest, Montana, and pockets of Nevada and California, with departures generally 4 degrees below normal or less.   In the Southwest, departures ranged from 2 to 8 degrees above normal.  Stations in eastern and southern New Mexico set new monthly mean temperature records while many other locations recorded values that fell within the ten hottest on record.  Much of the West continued to be dry, with locations in California, northern Nevada, northern Utah, and southern New Mexico experiencing their driest July on record.  Pockets of above-normal precipitation, generally 1-2 inches above normal, occurred in all western states. Drought expanded, with 32.16 percent of the West in drought now compared to 27.65 percent at the beginning of June.  Severe drought increased slightly from 11.08 to 11.10 percent while extreme drought increased from 5.80 to 6.09 percent. The area in exceptional drought remained unchanged at 2.81 percent of the West.





July 2016 impact summary: Drought in the Northeast brings water shortages and crop concerns

The two charts above summarize information from the Drought Impact Reporter.

By Denise Gutzmer, NDMC Drought Impact Specialist

July heat combined with intensifying drought in parts of the U.S. cut into agricultural production as farmers did their best to protect their crops from the elements and bring them to harvest.  Drought in the Northeast seemed to receive the most media coverage of crop conditions and water supply shortages and restrictions.  New York garnered the most impacts for July with 27, most of those concerning agricultural and water issues, while Texas had the second most impacts with 21, often describing drought’s effects on plants and wildlife.  Contributors from the Community Rain, Hail and Snow Network (CoCoRaHS) submitted 10 of the impacts for July, boosting the monthly tally for Texas to more than would be expected, given the minimal extent of drought in the state. 

Water supplies strained in the Northeast

Several northeastern states entered drought advisories or watches in July as water supplies were strained by the ongoing dry heat.  All northeastern states had some communities with water restrictions.

Massachusetts’ Drought Management Task Force issued a drought watch on July 12 for much of the central and northeastern part of the state and a drought advisory for the Connecticut River Valley and southeastern Massachusetts. 

On July 15, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation issued a drought watch for the state of New York, with a watch being the lowest level of drought advisory.  The watch was upgraded to a warning for a large part of western New York on Aug. 4, while the eastern part of the state remained in a drought watch.

The Department of Environmental Protection issued a water supply drought watch for most of northern New Jersey on July 25.

On Aug. 3, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection issued a drought watch declaration for 34 counties and a drought warning declaration for Potter County. 

A few communities were facing the need for emergency or urgent conservation because of low water supplies.  In Newburyport, Massachusetts, selectmen adopted an immediate emergency ban on outdoor water use because the level in town wells had fallen significantly as a result of drought.  Water was not to be used outdoors for anything other than drinking, cooking and hygiene, watering livestock, or watering home vegetable gardens and flowers from a hand-held container.  Ithaca, New York, could be out of water in the next 30 days without significant rainfall, city officials announced on July 27.  Two creeks that are sources of municipal water for Ithaca and Cornell University were at record low levels. The U.S. Geological Survey data showed groundwater levels were lower than normal and steadily dropping. 

Drought Watch Issued For New York State, Adirondack Almanack (N.Y.), July 15, 2016

Much of Mass. placed under a drought watch, by Dylan McGuiness, The Boston Globe, July 12, 2016

Drought Watch Issued for Most of Northern New Jersey, State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, July 25, 2016

DEP Declares Drought Watch for 34 Pennsylvania Counties, Gant Daily (Clearfield, Penn.), Aug. 3, 2016

Drought warning issued for much of western New York, The Associated Press, New Jersey Herald (Newton, N.J.), Aug. 4, 2016

Severe drought deepens in Upstate NY: Wells dry up, corn shrivels, cities run low, by Glenn Coin, (N.Y.), Aug. 5, 2016

Emergency outdoor water ban enacted in Seabrook, by Angeljean Chiaramida, Newburyport News (Mass.), July 8, 2016

DROUGHT: Ithaca water supply 'critically low', by Lois Wilson, Ithaca Journal (N.Y.), July 28, 2016

Ag producers in Northeast face challenges from drought

Many farmers in the Northeast were irrigating heavily, if able, or were trying to rig up temporary systems to deliver as much water as they could to their withering crops.  Irrigation means additional time and energy spent moving pipes in fields and increased expenses for powering the pumps, ultimately raising the cost of producing crops.  Across much of the region, crops failed or were stunted by the hot, dry weather, even for some farmers with irrigation.  Growers offering shares of community-supported agriculture programs did not have the variety they intended, but, in many cases, there was still enough produce to fill out the weekly shares. 

Drought and limited pasture growth could be the last straw for some New York dairy farmers who were struggling financially.  Record low milk prices, increased minimum wages, and drought left some dairy farmers wondering how to make ends meet.  Heat can limit cows’ milk production, compounding producers’ problems. 

Many growers in western Massachusetts deemed the summer of 2016 “the worst year” in memory for their business.  A Hampshire County grower lamented that his corn had not ripened, melons had not appeared on the vines, and some of his peppers aborted.  The soil was so dry that there was no moisture five to six inches deep.

A central Massachusetts grower put forth “heroic effort” to irrigate at least 90 percent of his 100 acres and keep most crops alive, but made sacrifices in other ways while focusing on irrigation.  He neglected weeding and cultivating community projects and was unable to harvest enough produce to distribute shares to some 1,000 community-supported agriculture members.

Drought hits Northeast; some Connecticut wells go dry, by Michael Casey, Associated Press, The Middletown Press (N.H.), July 24, 2016

Dairy Farms Struggling Through Drought, by Samantha Lantz, My Twin (Elmira, N.Y.), July 11, 2016

Drought dries up farms' CSA share diversity, by Matt Steecker, Ithaca Journal (N.Y.), July 19, 2016

Drought takes a toll on farmers, by Rick Miller, Olean Times Herald (N.Y.), July 19, 2016

Farmers blame drought for 'worst year' for crops, by Anne-Gerard Flynn, (Springfield), July 28, 2016

Watch out for black bears in the Northeast

The dry weather in the Northeast diminished the berry crop, driving black bears to birdfeeders, garbage cans, and backyards grills in search of food.  People ought to be aware of their surroundings to avoid a surprise encounter with a hungry bruin.  The Maine Warden Service had already received more than 200 bear complaints as of mid-June, compared to about 400 complaints for all of 2015.

Dry weather bringing people, bears together in New England, by Associated Press, Central CT Communications (New Britain, Conn.), July 3, 2016

Dry crops, fire danger causing concern in Texas

Texas has endured plenty of drought in recent years and seems to revisit drought periodically. In mid-July, forecasters were fearful that a flash drought was developing in the central part of the state because precipitation had fallen to 25 percent of normal for the past 30 days.  Crop stress was mounting, and cotton in southern Texas needed rain to avoid damage to the crop toward the end of the month.  Some cotton was already stunted and stressed in West Texas.

By the end of July, Texas was hot and dry, with drought stress apparent in central Texas and other areas in pastures, dryland Bermuda grass meadows, and cotton.  Livestock producers in the Panhandle were expected to start supplemental feeding soon if the weather did not change. 

The lack of rain has also increased the fire danger, and 100 counties had bans on outdoor burning as of July 29. 

Weather watchers express concern over ‘flash drought’, by Robin Blackburn, Seguin Gazette (Texas), July 15, 2016

Excessive heat, lack of rain combine to stress cotton, by Josie Musico, Amarillo Globe-News (Texas), July 23, 2016

Texas crop, weather: Wildfire threat increases amid hot, arid conditions around the state, by Adam Russell, North Texas e-News (Fannin, Texas), July 27, 2016

Texas A&M produces a map of outdoor burn bans in the state.  

Water conservation continues in California

In California, water consumption was down 21.5 percent in June, the first month that statewide drought restrictions had been lifted.  A year earlier, Californians curbed water use by 27.5 percent, but the dip in conservation was not unexpected after water agencies were finally allowed to drop mandated conservation requiring cutbacks up to 25 percent compared with 2013, the year prior to Gov. Jerry Brown’s drought emergency declaration. 

California water conservation returns to local leadership, by Jonathan J. Cooper and Amy Taxin, The Sacramento Bee, Aug. 2, 2016

South Dakota cattle producers experiencing lack of pasture, hay

The patch of expanding drought in western South Dakota and northeastern Wyoming indicated the area where cattle producers were running short on pasture and hay because of lack of pasture growth.  Several counties, including Lawrence, Meade, and Pennington, were declared natural disaster areas because of drought.

Gov. Daugaard of South Dakota activated the state’s Drought Task Force, which met on July 11 in Pierre and also declared fire emergency conditions for 13 counties in the western and central part of the state on July 14.  State agencies were directed to serve the fire zone counties as needed. 

Drought Conditions Taking Toll on Western SD Cattle Producers, WNAX 570 (Yankton, S.D.), July 12, 2016

Governor Daugaard Activates State Drought Task Force, South Dakota State News, (Pierre, S.D.) July 11, 2016

Daugaard Issues Emergency Fire Declaration, Rapid City Journal (S.D.), July 14, 2016







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