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National Drought Mitigation Center

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Winter weather eases drought from California to Texas

November 27, 2013

Rain and snow from Southern California to the Gulf of Mexico helped diminish drought in the week that ended Nov. 26, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

“Well-placed storm systems continued to reduce the coverage of U.S. drought, with just 30.57 percent of the lower 48 States in drought on Nov. 26. This is a decline of 1.88 percentage points from a week ago and represents the smallest U.S. drought coverage since Dec. 27, 2011,” said Brad Rippey, meteorologist in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of the Chief Economist. “Based on the definitions of drought employed in the production of the U.S. Drought Monitor, historical U.S. drought coverage should average near 20 percent. The last time contiguous U.S. drought coverage was below 20 percent was Dec. 14, 2010.”

Rippey added that drought will likely decline again next week. “Precipitation associated with the storm currently affecting the eastern U.S. is only partially reflected in this issuance of the U.S. Drought Monitor,” he said. “Since appreciable precipitation fell in the East after the cutoff time (7 a.m. Eastern time on Tuesday), further reductions in the coverage of abnormal dryness (D0) and moderate drought (D1) should be expected next week.”

Drought receded in northern Alabama, southern Arkansas, Mississippi, much of Texas, northern Missouri, California, southern Utah, northern New Mexico, and Arizona.

The only spot in the country where drought got worse was in north central Texas, where exceptional drought expanded slightly.

“Hay in drought (21 percent of the production area) and cattle in drought (34 percent of the U.S. inventory) each declined one percentage point from a week ago,” Rippey said. “Winter wheat in drought also declined one percentage point to 30 percent of the production area. The USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service reported that 93 percent of the U.S. winter wheat had emerged by Nov. 24, five percentage points better than last year’s drought-affected crop.  Most of the wheat crop is faring well – rated 62 percent good to excellent on Nov. 24 – but dryness remains a concern on the southern High Plains. For example, 28 percent of the winter wheat in Texas was rated very poor to poor on Nov. 24, up from 5 percent five weeks ago.”

U.S. Drought Monitor authors synthesize many drought indicators into a single map that identifies areas of the country that are abnormally dry (D0), in moderate drought (D1), in severe drought (D2), extreme drought (D3) and exceptional drought (D4). The map is released each week based on data through the previous Tuesday morning.

The U.S. Drought Monitor map is jointly produced by the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the USDA, and about 350 drought observers across the country. This week’s U.S. Drought Monitor author, Richard Heim, is with the NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center.

Statistics for the percent area in each category of drought are automatically added to the U.S. Drought Monitor website each week for the entire country and Puerto Rico, for the 48 contiguous states, for each climate region, and for individual states. U.S. Drought Monitor data online goes back to January 2000.
http://drought.unl.edu/MonitoringTools/USDroughtMonitor/DroughtMonitorTips.aspx

U.S. Drought Monitor map, statistics and narrative summary: http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu

Drought Impact Reporter: http://droughtreporter.unl.edu                                                              

U.S. Ag in Drought, current: http://www.usda.gov/oce/weather/Drought/AgInDrought.pdf
archived: http://drought.unl.edu/Planning/Impacts/USAginDroughtArchive.aspx

National Climatic Data Center’s State of the Climate Drought Summary:
http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/drought/

U.S. Monthly Drought Outlook:
http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/expert_assessment/mdo_summary.html

U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook:
http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/expert_assessment/sdo_summary.html

-- Kelly Helm Smith, National Drought Mitigation Center

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