National Drought Mitigation Center


Drought of 2012 recedes overall; better to the south and worse to the north

October 4, 2012

The extent of the drought of 2012 receded incrementally across the United States in the week that ended Oct. 2, according to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor. Conditions improved in Texas, Oklahoma, Georgia, Illinois and Missouri, but got worse in Minnesota, Wisconsin, the Dakotas, Nebraska and Wyoming.

Statistics released with the map showed that 54.04 percent of the country was in moderate drought or worse, down from 54.77 percent the week before, which was the largest extent in the 12-year record of the U.S. Drought Monitor. The map showed 33.52 percent in severe drought or worse, down slightly from 35.24 percent a week earlier; 16.83 percent in extreme drought or worse, down from 17.97 percent the week before; and 5.07 percent in exceptional drought, compared with 5.12  percent the preceding week.

Nebraska is the state with the highest proportion of exceptional drought, which now covers 77.61 percent of the state, up from 73.25 percent the week before. Drought intensified in South Dakota, with exceptional drought increasing to 27 percent, from 6.72 percent; in North Dakota, severe drought increased to 51 percent from 28.49 percent. Drought also intensified in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

The latest U.S. Drought Monitor shows 65.97 percent of Texas in moderate drought or worse, compared with 78.73 percent the week before; 32.55 percent in severe drought, compared with 57.41 percent; 16.16 percent in extreme drought, compared with 24.91 percent; and 3.23 percent in exceptional drought, down from 5.18 percent.

Oklahoma saw a reduction in extreme drought, to 80.12 percent, down from 95.33 percent, and a reduction to 28.21 percent in exceptional drought, compared with 42.09 percent the week before. Georgia had reductions in all categories of drought, with the area in moderate drought down to 47.77 percent from 52.44 percent, and the area in exceptional drought down to 9.03 percent from 17.18 percent the week before. Illinois had reductions in the area in moderate and severe drought, and Missouri showed a reduction in severe and extreme drought.

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 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 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.

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 map and narrative summary:

Seasonal Drought Outlook:

U.S. Department of Agriculture’s running tally of farm and food impacts from the Drought of 2012: