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; and the area in exceptional drought was down to 5.27 percent from 5.6 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.
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 morning.
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
NOAA’s 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/2012/13/uspctarea-wetdry-mod.txt
U.S. Drought Monitor map, statistics 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 tally of farm and food impacts from the Drought of 2012: http://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/in-the-news/us-drought-2012-farm-and-food-impacts.aspx
-- Kelly Helm Smith, National Drought Mitigation Center