The area of the United States in drought expanded slightly, mostly due to incremental changes in the South, on the March 19 U.S. Drought Monitor map.
The total area in moderate drought or worse expanded to 51.86 percent of the country, a slight increase from 51.38 percent a week earlier. The total area of the southern region in moderate drought or worse increased to 58.96 percent, up from 54.54 percent a week earlier. The greatest intensification of drought was in Texas, although it also spread and intensified in Arkansas, California and Florida.
Drought receded in parts of Georgia, northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin. Illinois is now drought-free for the first time since April 3, 2012, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor archive.
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 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.
U.S. Drought Monitor map, statistics and narrative summary: http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu
National Climatic Data Center’s State of the Climate Drought Summary:
Seasonal Drought Outlook:
-- Kelly Helm Smith, National Drought Mitigation Center