National Drought Mitigation Center


Drought increases in East, decreases in Midwest

November 14, 2013

Small changes to the U.S. Drought Monitor map for the week that ended Nov. 12 included increases in dry patches along the Eastern Seaboard, and mostly improvements in Texas and in the Midwest.

The area of the 48 contiguous states in moderate drought or worse declined by just under half a percentage point (to 31.76 percent) on the Nov. 12 U.S. Drought Monitor map, the lowest level since Dec. 27, 2011, said Brad Rippey, meteorologist in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of the Chief Economist. By definition, normal drought coverage would be around 20 percent. The last time coverage was below 20 percent was Dec. 14, 2010.

The last few months have been relatively dry in the eastern United States. The U.S. Drought Monitor now shows large areas as abnormally dry, the precursor to drought, in New England and the Mid-Atlantic and in patches in the Southeast. The past week brought expansion of moderate drought in central Massachusetts, southeastern New York, New Jersey and Alabama. Rhode Island had its fourth driest October on record, said David Simeral, this week’s U.S. Drought Monitor author.

Rippey noted that moderate drought now affects 57 percent of Massachusetts, 24 percent of New Jersey and Rhode Island, 18 percent of Connecticut, and 5 percent of Alabama and New York.

Conditions in Texas improved in the far south and northeast but got worse in the Panhandle, and Oklahoma also saw some areas improve and some get worse. In the Midwest, conditions generally improved in Iowa, Illinois, southern Wisconsin and Missouri.

Drought in the West remained unchanged on this week’s map, with more than half of the area in moderate drought or worse.

On November 10, the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service reported that 84 percent of U.S. corn and 91 percent of soybeans had been harvested, Rippey said. Lingering drought remains a concern in a few Midwestern States, including Iowa (54 percent in drought on November 12), Minnesota (25 percent), Illinois (25 percent), Missouri (24 percent), and Wisconsin (23 percent).

For the second week in a row, a little more than one-fifth (22 percent) of the U.S. hay production area was in drought, Rippey said. Cattle in drought (35 percent) and winter wheat in drought (30 percent) were down one percentage point from a week ago.

The USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service reported that 95 percent of the winter wheat had been planted by November 10, with 84 percent of the crop emerged. Although most of the wheat crop is growing well – rated 65 percent good to excellent on November 10 – dryness remains a concern on the southern High Plains, Rippey said. For example, 20 percent of the winter wheat in Texas was rated very poor to poor on November 10, up from 5 percent three weeks 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. Simeral is with the Western Regional Climate Center at the Desert Research Institute in Reno, Nevada.

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