National Drought Mitigation Center


Drought eases in West and holds on in Midwest

October 3, 2013

Drought eased and receded in the West, South, and High Plains but remained unchanged in the Midwest in the week that ended Oct. 1, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

The proportion of the contiguous United States in moderate drought or worse dropped relatively steeply for the second week in a row, declining to 41.21 percent from 45.46 percent a week earlier. The last time the area in drought was this small was in June 2012. It has been declining off and on since it peaked at 65.45 percent on Sept. 25, 2012.

Seasonal rains brought improvement to the eastern Dakotas, northwestern Minnesota, northeastern Missouri, west Louisiana, southwest Arkansas, central Mississippi, central Nebraska, northwest Kansas, most of Texas and Oklahoma, Wyoming, and the northern corners of Colorado. In the Pacific Northwest, heavy and moderate rains brought improvements to northwestern California, most of Oregon, southeastern Washington, northern and central Idaho, and southwestern Montana. Utah and Nevada showed net improvement.  

David Miskus, this week’s U.S. Drought Monitor author, noted in narrative accompanying the map that several locations in Washington and Oregon had record-breaking September precipitation totals, including Astoria, Ore. (10.70 inches); Olympia, Wash. (9.36 inches); Eugene, Ore. (7.08 inches); Salem, Ore. (7.05 inches); Seattle-Tacoma, Wash. (6.17 inches); and Portland, Ore. (5.62 inches).

In the Plains, Miskus said, “The rains fell during a prime time for soil moisture recharge as lower temperatures, minimal evaporation, little to no plant growth, and unfrozen soils allowed for ideal water infiltration.”

The few areas where drought spread or intensified were northern Illinois, eastern Missouri, south-central Arkansas, north-central Louisiana, spots in Texas, and the central Oklahoma Panhandle.

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. Miskus is with NOAA’s Climate Prediction 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