National Drought Mitigation Center


Drought expands in pockets across the U.S.

November 21, 2013

Drought in the U.S. showed a small net expansion in the week that ended Nov. 19, according to the U.S Drought Monitor.

The proportion of the lower 48 states in moderate drought or worse increased to 32.45 percent from 31.76 percent a week earlier. The areas in severe, extreme and exceptional drought also showed small increases.

“Parts of the Northeast have seen a two-class degradation over the past four weeks, with moderate drought jumping from 3.27 percent to 7.79 percent since the beginning of November,” said Eric Luebehusen, meteorologist in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of the Chief Economist. “Out west, extreme drought in California jumped from 11.36 percent to 27.59 percent over the past week.” 

States with areas where drought expanded or intensified included Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, Texas, Oklahoma, California, New Mexico and Arizona.

States with areas where drought receded included Texas, Iowa, Illinois, Hawaii and Alaska.

“For the third week in a row, a little more than one-fifth (22 percent) of the U.S. hay production area was in drought,” Luebehusen said. “Cattle in drought remained unchanged at 35 percent, while winter wheat in drought inched up 1 percentage point to 31 percent.  Although most of the wheat crop is growing well – rated 63 percent good to excellent on Nov. 17 – dryness remains a concern on the southern High Plains. For example, 23 percent of the winter wheat in Texas was rated very poor to poor on November 17, up from 5 percent four 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 week based on data through the previous Tuesday morning. Next week’s map will be released on Wednesday rather than the usual Thursday due to the Thanksgiving holiday.

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. This week’s U.S. Drought Monitor author, Richard Heim, is with the NOAA’s National Climatic Data 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:                                                              

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