The July 17, 2012, U.S. Drought Monitor map showed increases in the area of the United States in all categories of drought, setting a record for the third consecutive week for the total area of the country in drought during the 12-year history of the map. As of July 17, 53.17 percent of the country was in moderate drought or worse, up from 50.92 percent a week earlier.
“We continue to see drought spreading and intensifying,” said Brian Fuchs, climatologist and U.S. Drought Monitor author at the National Drought Mitigation Center, based at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. “Even though we’ve made improvements in places like Texas where they’ve had rain, drought has expanded in other areas, like eastern Iowa.”
Statistics released with the July 17 Drought Monitor map show 53.17 percent of the United States and Puerto Rico in moderate drought or worse, compared with 50.92 percent a week ago; 35.32 percent severe or worse, compared with 31.11 percent a week ago; 11.32 percent extreme or worse, compared with 9.71 percent a week ago; and .83 percent exceptional or worse, compared with .62 percent a week ago.
“The dryness and heat wave pattern are still locked in,” Fuchs said. “The latest forecast says this isn’t changing. This could easily go on into September.”
The U.S. Drought Monitor map is produced in collaboration by the National Drought Mitigation Center at UNL, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and about 350 drought observers across the country. It is released each Thursday based on data through the previous Tuesday.
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).
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.
The National Climatic Data Center maintains drought data based on the Palmer Drought Severity Index, calculated to the beginning of the historic record.
U.S. Drought Monitor: http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu