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U.S. Drought Monitor: West gets rain, Southeast dries out, Plains endure

Jan 31, 2013
U.S. Drought Monitor, Jan. 29, 2013

In the week that ended Jan. 29, rains eased drought in the Southwest, but dry, warm weather intensified drought in the Southeast, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

Drought improved in parts of Arizona, New Mexico and California, but got slightly worse in Georgia, South Carolina, Florida, Texas and Oklahoma, according to the map and accompanying statistics.

Drought in the Plains was unchanged. “The drought is firmly entrenched as we roll toward February,” said Mark Svoboda, this week’s U.S. Drought Monitor author, in narrative accompanying the map. “The relative lack of winter in back-to-back years will certainly place a much greater onus on well above-normal spring rains if the region is to have any real chance of shaking this drought. Same song, fifth verse with no changes of note on the map in what is now the epicenter of the 2013 drought.”

Statistics released with the Jan. 29 map showed a miniscule net increase in all categories of drought. The proportion of the area of the entire U.S. and Puerto Rico in moderate drought or worse rose to 48.58 percent from 48.55 percent the week before; the area in severe drought or worse increased to 33.98 percent from 33.53 percent; the area in extreme drought or worse increased to 16.19 percent, from 16.15 percent; and the area in exceptional drought increased to 5.32 percent from 5.31 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 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

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




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