Widespread drought in the United States receded slightly for the fourth week in a row, although the area in exceptional drought centered over Nebraska was unchanged, according to the Oct. 23 U.S. Drought Monitor.
Statistics released with the U.S. Drought Monitor map showed that 51.71 percent of the country was in moderate drought or worse, down slightly from 52.21 percent the week before. The map showed 32.32 percent in severe drought or worse, down from 32.48 percent a week earlier; 16.32 percent in extreme drought or worse, up from 15.96 percent the week before; and 4.88 percent in exceptional drought, the same as the preceding week.
North Dakota showed improvement, with a small area in extreme drought reduced to severe on this week’s U.S. Drought Monitor map, and overall reductions in drought intensity.
In Utah, long-term precipitation deficits resulted in the area in extreme drought increasing to 32.4 percent of the state, up from 22.53 percent the week before. Drought also got worse over central Georgia.
U.S. Drought Monitor author Brad Rippey, U.S. Department of Agriculture, noted that recent rains across the Midwest have brought some short-term relief, so drought areas in Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, southeast Iowa and southeast Wisconsin are now designated as being in long-term drought.
The High Plains region as a whole, where drought is currently the most intense, saw only minor changes. The total area in drought declined slightly, but the area in exceptional drought remained unchanged, at 27.44 percent.
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 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 U.S. Department of Agriculture, and about 350 drought observers across the country. It is released each Thursday based on data through the previous Tuesday.
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: http://drought.unl.edu/MonitoringTools/USDroughtMonitor/DroughtMonitorTips.aspx
The National Climatic Data Center maintains drought data based on the Palmer Drought Severity Index, calculated to the beginning of the historic record. The percent area of the U.S. in moderate to extreme drought since 1895 is online: http://www1.ncdc.noaa.gov/pub/data/cmb/sotc/drought/2012/09/uspctarea-wetdry-mod.txt
U.S. Drought Monitor map and narrative summary: http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu
National Climatic Data Center’s State of the Climate Drought Summary: http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/drought/
Seasonal Drought Outlook: http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/expert_assessment/seasonal_drought.html
U.S. Department of Agriculture's Crops in Drought report for Oct. 16, 2012.
U.S. Department of Agriculture’s running tally of farm and food impacts from the Drought of 2012: http://www.ers.usda.gov/newsroom/us-drought-2012-farm-and-food-impacts.aspx
-- Kelly Helm Smith, National Drought Mitigation Center