National Drought Mitigation Center


U.S. drought coverage increases in June 2016

July 7, 2016

By Brad Rippey, USDA Meteorologist, Office of the Chief Economist, World Agricultural Outlook Board, Washington, D.C.

During the 5-week period ending on July 5, 2016, contiguous U.S. drought coverage increased to 17.77 percent—up 5.04 percentage points.  Since the end of May, there have been several areas of emerging short-term drought, most notably across the interior Southeast and from the lower Great Lakes region into the Northeast.  Pockets of drought have also developed across the northern Plains and upper Midwest, and have returned to the Northwest.

In the last 5 weeks, the portion of both the U.S. corn and soybean production areas in drought increased from less than 1 percent to 7 percent.  Among the major production states, Michigan led with 31 percent of its corn production area in drought by July 5.  Nearly one-third of the soybean production area was in drought by July 5 in Mississippi (31 percent) and Michigan (29 percent).  Still, U.S. crops were mostly faring well, with 75 percent of the corn and 70 percent of the soybeans rated in good to excellent condition on July 3, according to USDA/NASS.  Among Midwestern states, Michigan led with 12 percent of both corn and soybeans rated in very poor to poor condition on July 3.

On July 5, drought was affecting 15 percent of the U.S. cattle inventory, up from 10 percent at the end of May.  Similarly, 14 percent of the nation’s hay area was in drought, up from 8 percent on May 31.  Nevertheless, 59 percent of the U.S. rangeland and pastures were rated good to excellent on July 3, while only 12 percent were rated very poor to poor.  States reporting at least one-fifth of their rangeland and pastures in very poor to poor condition on July 3 included Vermont (62 percent), Connecticut (39 percent), California (35 percent), Massachusetts (33 percent), Oregon (28 percent), Georgia (28 percent), Arizona (27 percent), Michigan (23 percent), Tennessee (23 percent), Montana (22 percent), Alabama (21 percent) and New Mexico (20 percent).

Central and southern California remained the epicenter of long-term drought, as Los Angeles recently completed its driest 5-year period (July 1, 2011 – June 30, 2016) on record.  Statewide, 84 percent of California was in drought (D1 or worse) on July 3, while 43 percent was considered to be in extreme to exceptional drought (D3 to D4).  California’s coverage of exceptional drought (D4) has fallen from 46 to 21 percent since October 1, 2015.  Elsewhere in the West, drought (D1 or worse) coverage during the 5 weeks ending July 3 included 59 percent in Arizona, 50 percent in Oregon, and 34 percent in Nevada.  Across the Plains and Midwest, drought coverage on July 3 stood at 38 percent in South Dakota, 18 percent in Iowa, and 16 percent in Michigan.  In the Northeast, drought covered more than half (55 percent) of Massachusetts, along with 43 percent of Connecticut, 42 percent of New Hampshire, 41 percent of New York, and 40 percent of New Jersey.  Finally, in the Southeast, July 3 coverage of drought reached 43 percent in Alabama, 42 percent in Mississippi, 40 percent in Tennessee, and 34 percent in Georgia.

Short-term weather outlook:  During the next several days, a series of disturbances will traverse the northern U.S.  As a result, 5-day rainfall totals could reach 1 to 3 inches across the nation’s northern tier, with amounts approaching 5 inches in parts of northern New England.  Significant rainfall (locally 1 to 3 inches) can also be expected across the upper Midwest, the interior Southeast, and the southern Mid-Atlantic region.  In contrast, little or no rain will occur across the Deep South and from California to Texas.  Meanwhile, a heat wave will continue across the southern High Plains, while unusually cool conditions will dominate the Northwest.  Elsewhere, briefly cooler air will surge across the Midwest toward week’s end, followed by a warming trend.

Please Note:  The next issuance of this drought update will be Thursday, August 4, 2016, unless conditions warrant an earlier release. 


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