Description: A Palmer derivative, the CMI reflects moisture supply in the short term across major crop-producing regions and is not intended to assess long-term droughts.
Pros: Identifies potential agricultural droughts.
Developed by: W.C. Palmer, 1968.
Weekly maps: from the Climate Prediction Center
The Crop Moisture Index (CMI) uses a meteorological approach to monitor week-to-week crop conditions. It was developed by Palmer (1968) from procedures within the calculation of the PDSI. Whereas the PDSI monitors long-term meteorological wet and dry spells, the CMI was designed to evaluate short-term moisture conditions across major crop-producing regions. It is based on the mean temperature and total precipitation for each week within a climate division, as well as the CMI value from the previous week. The CMI responds rapidly to changing conditions, and it is weighted by location and time so that maps, which commonly display the weekly CMI across the United States, can be used to compare moisture conditions at different locations. Weekly maps of the CMI are available as part of the USDA/JAWF Weekly Weather and Crop Bulletin.
Because it is designed to monitor short-term moisture conditions affecting a developing crop, the CMI is not a good long-term drought monitoring tool. The CMI’s rapid response to changing short-term conditions may provide misleading information about long-term conditions. For example, a beneficial rainfall during a drought may allow the CMI value to indicate adequate moisture conditions, while the long-term drought at that location persists. Another characteristic of the CMI that limits its use as a long-term drought monitoring tool is that the CMI typically begins and ends each growing season near zero. This limitation prevents the CMI from being used to monitor moisture conditions outside the general growing season, especially in droughts that extend over several years. The CMI also may not be applicable during seed germination at the beginning of a specific crop’s growing season.
Back to the Palmer Drought Severity Index | On to the Surface Water Supply Index