The area in drought increased fractionally in the week that ended April 2, according to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor map.
The total area of the United States in moderate drought or worse increased to 43.74 percent on the April 2 map, from 43.51 percent the week before, with similar small increases in all categories of drought. The area in drought is down from a peak of 54.77 percent on Sept. 25, 2012, but the widespread drought that started in 2012 is still entrenched over the Plains, the South and other areas.
Moderate drought expanded in parts of Florida, where some places have received rainfall that is 4 to 8 inches below normal for the year, and wildfires have been reported, said this week’s U.S. Drought Monitor author, Rich Tinker, in narrative accompanying the map.
In Texas, all categories of drought expanded in the past week. Texas was last completely drought-free in March and April 2010, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor archives.
Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kansas and Missouri all showed small improvements, after some areas received 2-4 inches of rain, said Tinker, who is with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center.
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