National Drought Mitigation Center


Cool, wet weather brings incremental relief from drought

August 1, 2013

Drought receded in the week that ended July 30, thanks to cool, wet weather over drought-affected areas in the Plains and monsoon rains in the Southwest, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor map and discussion.

The proportion of the lower 48 states in moderate drought or worse declined by nearly a percentage point to 45.64 percent from 46.55 percent a week earlier, and all other categories of drought showed similar decreases.

The biggest changes this week were the result of “significant rains over parts of Kansas, Oklahoma and Arkansas,” said Brian Fuchs, this week’s U.S. Drought Monitor author. He noted that there is “still the sharp gradient between areas that are receiving precipitation and those that are not, especially in places like Kansas.” Texas, Arizona and New Mexico also showed improvement.

Colorado got better in some areas and worse in others.

South Dakota got slightly worse, and so did parts of Louisiana, Wyoming, Utah and Oregon.

Overall, drought coverage is more than 18 percentage points lower than this time last year, when 63.86 percent of the contiguous United States was in drought, said Eric Luebehusen, a meteorologist in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of the Chief Economist. He reported that hay in drought (34 percent) decreased two points, following three consecutive weeks of increases, while cattle in drought dropped a percentage point to 47 percent.  Corn and soybeans in drought remained unchanged at 19 and 11 percent, respectively.

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 USDA, and about 350 drought observers across the country. Fuchs 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:

U.S. Monthly Drought Outlook:

U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook:

-- Kelly Helm Smith, National Drought Mitigation Center