National Drought Mitigation Center


Drought eases over southwestern and central states

September 26, 2013

Drought eased in several southwestern and central states in the week that ended Sept. 24, 2013, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor map. The proportion of the contiguous United States in moderate drought or worse declined to 45.46 percent from 48.19 percent a week earlier.

“Rain lingered in parts of Colorado and neighboring states for a few days in the wake of historic flooding, but mostly dry weather thereafter allowed recovery efforts to progress,” said this week’s U.S. Drought Monitor author, Brad Rippey. “However, a flood crest on the South Platte River coursed through northeastern Colorado and southwestern Nebraska, inundating some agricultural lowlands. Meanwhile, the tropical plume of moisture partially responsible for Colorado’s flooding shifted eastward in advance of a cold front. As a result, 1- to 3-inch rainfall totals were common along and east of a Wisconsin-to-Texas line. Even heavier rain, locally 4 inches or more, curtailed fieldwork but eased drought from central and eastern Texas to the Mississippi Delta.”

In the Midwest, drought intensified in parts of Iowa and Illinois, but retreated from central Indiana. With 3.44 inches of rain on September 19, South Bend, Indiana, experienced its 11th-wettest calendar day on record, Rippey said in narrative accompanying the map.

In the Southwest, drought receded in Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona.

In the South, a large area of extreme drought across the intersections of Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas and Mississippi improved to severe. Rippey noted that on Sept. 20, when 4.26 inches of rain fell, Pine Bluff, Arkansas, had its wettest September day on record since 1886.

Additional analysis from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of the Chief Economist, where Rippey is a meteorologist, showed that for the week ending Sept. 24, corn and soybeans in drought were down 1 percentage point, with 54 and 44 percent of the respective production areas categorized as being in moderate drought or worse. Cattle (51 percent) and hay (37 percent) in drought each decreased 2 percentage points. Forty percent of the U.S. winter wheat production area was in drought on September 24, down 3 percentage points from a week ago.

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. 

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