National Drought Mitigation Center


Drought intensifies in Southwest

June 27, 2013

Drought intensified in the Southwest, Alaska and Hawaii in the week that ended June 25, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

Expanding drought in Alaska and Hawaii meant that statistics for the 48 contiguous states and for the country as a whole diverged slightly. For all 50 states and Puerto Rico, the proportion of the area in moderate drought or worse increased to 38.12 percent, from 37.76 percent a week earlier. For the 48 contiguous states, the area in moderate drought decreased to 43.84 percent from 44.77 percent.

“New Mexico continues to forge into uncharted territory,” said Mark Svoboda, this week’s U.S. Drought Monitor author, “with data from NOAA-National Climatic Data Center (records going back to 1895) showing the past 12 months to be the driest on record for the state coupled with the past 24 and 36 months coming in as the second driest on record.” This week’s U.S. Drought Monitor showed extreme drought expanding in northern New Mexico, increasing the proportion of that state in extreme drought or worse to 93.46 percent, from 90.18 percent last week.

The Drought Impact Reporter has logged 13 impacts for New Mexico for the corresponding week, including wildfire in the Gila National Forest, fireworks restrictions, efforts to provide water for wildlife, and the Magdalena town well running dry. An observer in Sierra County near the Gila National Forest reported, “The village of Kingston has been evacuated. Smoke rolls over the hill into the village of Cuchillo almost every day. Yesterday there was so much smoke we stayed indoors. No rain yet, just a few sprinkles. It has been three years since we have had significant rain.”

In California, severe drought expanded this week across the Sacramento Valley to cover 92.61 percent of the state. Severe drought also expanded across Nevada, with 86.4 percent of the state now in severe drought or worse.  Drought also intensified slightly in Arizona and Colorado.

Wyoming and Texas each had both improvements and degradations. States showing reductions in drought coverage included South Dakota, Minnesota, Oregon, Washington and Idaho.

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 map is released each Thursday based on data through the previous Tuesday morning.

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. Svoboda is with the National Drought Mitigation Center.

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:

Drought Impact Reporter:

USDA’s weekly “Agriculture in Drought” analysis:

National Climatic Data Center’s State of the Climate Drought Summary:

Seasonal Drought Outlook:

-- Kelly Helm Smith