Thursday, April 19, 2018

National Drought Mitigation Center

Drought and Climate for November 2017: Warm, dry conditions expand drought in southern United States

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 Brian Fuchs, NDMC Climatologist


During November, the area of the contiguous United States impacted by drought increased from 11.95 percent at the beginning of the month to 21.14 percent at the end of the month.  Areas in severe drought increased from 2.67 to 4.88 percent and extreme drought also increased from 0.88 to 1.03 percent; no areas of exceptional drought existed.  Much of the increase was across the southern tier of the United States as warm and dry conditions were common in November.  November ended with just over 44 million people being impacted by drought compared to 26 million at the beginning of the month.  Compared to last year at this time, drought conditions are better, as a significant drought was impacting the Southeast in 2016.  The percent area of the country currently affected by drought is just over 10 percent less than at the same time last year, and 18 million fewer people are being impacted by drought compared to the end of November last year.

Drought Outlook

The Monthly Drought Outlook has all drought areas either persisting or expanding in December.  Much of the introduction of drought is in the Southwest, southern Plains, and Southeast, which is very typical of a La NiƱa winter pattern.  Drought will continue to improve in Hawaii, with more removal expected.


Warmer than normal temperatures dominated most of the West, Plains, and Southeast in November.  The Four Corners region was 6-8 degrees above normal while most of the Plains areas were 4-6 degrees above normal.  The Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, and Northeast were all cooler than normal, with departures of 2-4 degrees below normal temperatures. 


Drier than normal conditions dominated the South and southern portions of the Midwest in November.  Departures of 4-6 inches below normal were common, with the greatest departures centered over Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, southern Alabama, and the Florida panhandle.  Wetter than normal conditions were observed over the Pacific Northwest and northern Rocky Mountains, where departures were 2-4 inches above normal.  Eastern portions of the Midwest and Great Lakes region were also wetter than normal, with departures of 2-4 inches above normal.

Regional Overviews


Temperatures in the Northeast were generally 1-2 degrees below normal for the month, with the coolest temperatures recorded in upstate New York, central Pennsylvania, and along the Canadian border.  It was dry in the region, with most of the area about 1-3 inches below normal.  The dryness did not result in any additional drought development, which kept the region drought free going into December.


Cooler than normal temperatures were recorded along the Carolina coast while most of Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, and Alabama were 1-2 degrees warmer than normal.  Dry conditions dominated the Southeast, with most areas 2-4 degrees below normal for November.  Precipitation in portions of the Florida peninsula and southeast coast was 1-3 inches above normal.  With the warmth and dryness, drought conditions spread in the region; November ended with 14.86 percent of the region in drought compared to 2.29 percent at the end of October. 

Movers & Shakers for November 2017

Percent area October 31, 2017

Percent area November 28, 2017 Status Percentage point change
Biggest increases in drought
Alabama 0.43 13.25 Moderate 12.82
Arizona 41.27 73.10 Moderate 31.83
Arkansas 62.17 85.20 Moderate 23.03
0 61.27 Severe 61.27
0 14.66 Extreme 14.66
Colorado 1.22 13.24 Moderate 12.02
Florida 0 12.25 Moderate 12.25
Georgia 0 13.75 Moderate 13.75
Kansas 0.64 15.33 Moderate 14.69
Louisiana 9.47 51.49 Moderate 42.02
0 18.87 Severe 18.87
Mississippi 18.93 56.80 Moderate 37.87
Missouri 34.54 39.61 Moderate 5.07
0 16.64 Severe 16.64
New Mexico 1.88 16.23 Moderate 14.35
North Carolina 8.42 21.93 Moderate 13.51
North Dakota 36.83 48.08 Moderate 11.25
Oklahoma 2.75 39.90 Moderate 37.15
0 20.80 Severe 20.80
South Carolina 2.31 27.26 Moderate 24.95
Texas 2.52 35.11 Moderate 32.59
0.11 5.50 Severe 5.39
Utah 12.48 52.00 Moderate 39.52
Biggest improvements in drought
Hawaii 46.98 26.32 Moderate 20.66
11.79 6.99 Severe 4.80
Montana 73.37 53.50 Moderate 19.87
41.50 30.20 Severe 11.30
Ohio 10.97 0 Moderate 10.97
Washington 14.80 0 Moderate 14.80


Warm and dry conditions dominated the South in November.  Temperatures were generally 2-4 degrees above normal while precipitation departures varied from 4-5 inches below normal in eastern Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and east Texas to 1-2 inches below normal farther west in the region.  Moderate drought expanded significantly during the month, now covering 41.44 percent of the region compared to 10.50 at the beginning of the month.  Severe drought increased from 0.06 to 13.44 percent, and extreme drought was introduced, now covering 1.59 percent of the South. 


The northern extent of the region was 1-3 degrees cooler than normal while the southern areas were 1-3 degrees warmer than normal, with the warmest temperatures being recorded in southern Missouri.  Dry conditions dominated much of the Midwest, with departures of 1-3 inches common for most of the region except southern Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana, where departures were 1-3 inches above normal.  Overall, the extent of drought in the region decreased slightly, from 7.17 to 6.98 percent.  Severe drought was introduced into southern Missouri, now accounting for 2.40 percent of the region. 

High Plains

Warmer than normal temperatures dominated the region, with the west and southern extent showing departures of 6-8 degrees above normal.  Northern areas of North Dakota were cooler than normal, with departures of 2-4 degrees below normal temperatures.  Dry conditions dominated the region, with most all areas 1-3 inches below normal for November.  Drought conditions continued to develop in the region; moderate drought increased from 13.70 to 19.97 percent and severe drought increased slightly, from 3.26 to 3.44 percent.


Most of the West was warmer than normal in November, with parts of the northern Rocky Mountains and the Pacific coast as the only areas at or below normal for temperatures.  The Four Corners region was the warmest area, with departures of 6-8 degrees above normal.  Most of the region was at or slightly below normal precipitation, with areas of northern California, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, western Montana, and western Wyoming all above normal for the month.  The greatest departures were in western Washington and portions of the northern Sierra Mountains, with departures of more than 8 inches above normal. The dryness and heat in the Southwest allowed for drought to expand, and November ended with 21.48 percent of the region in moderate drought, compared to 16.48 percent at the end of October.  Severe drought decreased from 5.34 to 3.94 percent and extreme drought decreased from 1.85 to 1.52 percent.



November 2017 impact summary: Continued drought affecting crops, raising fire danger across southern United States

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

By Denise Gutzmer, NDMC Drought Impact Specialist

November was unusually dry for parts of the southern United States where drought developed in the Southwest and also from Kansas and Texas to the Carolinas and Florida.  Most of the eighty-eight impacts added to the Drought Impact Reporter for November were from southern states, with nearly half of the impacts coming from Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow (CoCoRaHS) network observers.  Thirteen impacts were for Texas, while Arizona and Oklahoma followed with ten and nine impacts, respectively. 


In the three months since Hurricane Harvey inundated southeastern Texas with more than five feet of rain in places, the weather has been dry and warm, leading to the development of drought across the state.  Those dry conditions affected crops that did not emerge or were stressed from the lack of rain, winter pasture and rangeland. 

Texas Crop and Weather Report – Nov. 14, 2017, by Adam Russell, Texas A&M, North Texas e-News (Fannin, Texas), Nov. 15, 2017

From deluge to drought: Texas endures severe drought after Harvey, by Doyle Rice, USA Today (McLean, Virginia), Dec. 4, 2017


Arizona CoCoRaHS observers reported instances of javalina digging up roots to access moisture, as well as numerous accounts of wildlife seeking food and water in suburban areas.  Dry, stressed shrubs, trees, and other vegetation were also observed. 


Developing drought in Oklahoma threatened wheat and canola fields in the northwest part of the state.  Some of the wheat was spindly and stunted or had discolored leaves.  The poor condition of the wheat posed a problem for producers hoping to graze cattle on the crop.

Drought stress seen in some wheat, canola fields, by Josh Bushong, Enid News (Oklahoma), Dec. 3, 2017 


The fire danger rose across Arkansas in November, putting the Arkansas Forestry Commission (AFC) on high alert as drought intensified.  AFC pilots flew aerial wildfire detection routes, and bulldozer crews were on hand to get a jump on any blazes that did start.  Most counties adopted burn bans toward the end of the month because of the drought conditions, low humidity, and winds.  Over the Thanksgiving weekend, 1,805 acres burned, with that wildfire activity bringing the November fire tally to more than 3,100 acres. 

Duck hunters were also affected by the drought as the unusually dry conditions made duck hunting “nearly impossible.”  In many areas, there was too little water to draw ducks and no hope of much precipitation in the forecast.

Threat of wildfires puts Arkansas on high alert, Texarkana Gazette (Texas), Nov. 25, 2017

Nearly Half Of Arkansas Counties Under Burn Ban, by Bryan Shawver, KFSM-TV CBS 5 Fort Smith (Arkansas), Nov. 27, 2017

Arkansas Wildlife Waterfowl Report, by Jim Harris, Arkansas Game & Fish Commission (Little Rock, Arkansas), Nov. 29, 2017


The latest fall tally of dead trees in Yosemite National Park found 2.4 million on about 131,000 acres of the park, according to the park spokesman. This was the highest number of dead trees ever recorded in the park; officials blamed persistent drought, warming temperatures, poor forest health, and native bark beetles.

2.4 million trees are dead in Yosemite National Park, by Amy Graff, San Francisco Chronicle (, Nov. 8, 2017

North Dakota

Drought and an inability to get grass growing at the site of a Cold War-era base in Divide County prevented the full reclamation of the Fortuna Air Force Station. Grass must be seeded on an inert waste disposal pit, but a contractor’s seeding in July did not survive. County workers have since reseeded the area.

The base in northwestern North Dakota was activated in 1952 as a radar facility during the Cold War. Before partial deactivation in 1979, Fortuna AFS had long-range and height-finder radar, data, and backup systems. The site was decommissioned and abandoned in 1984.

North Dakota drought delays reclamation of Cold War site, Associated Press, The Bismarck Tribune (North Dakota), Nov. 15, 2017


For more drought information, please visit the Drought Impact Reporter.



The National Drought Mitigation Center | University of Nebraska-Lincoln
3310 Holdrege Street | P.O. Box 830988 | Lincoln, NE 68583–0988
phone: (402) 472–6707 | fax: (402) 472–2946 | Contact Us | Web Policy

University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Copyright 2018 National Drought Mitigation Center