National Drought Mitigation Center


Rains improve drought in the South but drought expands in Northeast

October 31, 2013

Drought receded in the South and expanded fractionally in the Northeast in the week that ended Oct. 29, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor map.

The total proportion of the contiguous 48 states in moderate drought or worse declined three-tenths of a percent to 34.7 percent on the map released this week.

Small patches of moderate drought expanded from Long Island to include New York City and a sliver of northeast New Jersey, a larger area in southwest Connecticut, northern Rhode Island, and nearly all of eastern Massachusetts.

In the South, moderate drought receded incrementally in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Mississippi.

States with significant areas of drought that remained mostly or entirely unchanged include Iowa, western Nebraska, western Kansas and western Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, California, southwest Oregon, and southern Idaho. Other states with smaller areas of drought include Wyoming, Colorado, Missouri, Illinois, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Mississippi and Arkansas.

On October 27, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service reported that 59 percent of the U.S. corn and 77 percent of the soybeans had been harvested, said Brad Rippey, meteorologist in the USDA’s Office of the Chief Economist, adding, “Thus, the 2013 growing season effectively has ended with 38 percent of the U.S. corn production area and 28 percent of the soybean area in drought, down from late-summer peaks of 55 and 45 percent, respectively. Still, there are pockets of lingering drought in the Midwest.  On October 27, USDA/NASS rated topsoil moisture more than half very short to short in Illinois (60 percent), Missouri (58 percent), and Iowa (53 percent).”

Rippey said that cattle in drought (39 percent), winter wheat in drought (33 percent), and hay in drought (25 percent) were all down one percentage point from a week ago, and that USDA/NASS reported that 86 percent of the winter wheat had been planted by October 27, with 65 percent of the crop emerged.  Although most of the young wheat crop was faring well – rated 61 percent good to excellent on October 27 – pockets of dryness remained a concern on the southern High Plains.  For example, 14 percent of the winter wheat in Texas was rated very poor to poor on October 27, up from 5 percent 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. Fuchs is with the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

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:                                                              

U.S. Ag in Drought, current:

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