National Drought Mitigation Center


Drought shrinks slightly but expands in patches across the southern U.S. and keeps grip on Plains

November 8, 2012

Drought intensified in the Southeast, the southern Plains, Texas and New Mexico in the week that ended Nov. 6, although the total area of the country in drought shrank slightly, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

Statistics released with the U.S. Drought Monitor map showed that 49.79 percent of the country was in moderate drought or worse, down slightly from 50.35 percent the week before. The map showed 31.84 percent in severe drought or worse, down from 32.01 percent a week earlier; 16.19 percent in extreme drought or worse, up from 15.92 percent the week before; and 5.16 percent in exceptional drought, an increase from 4.91 the preceding week.

A patch of drought centered over Georgia and extending into Alabama and South Carolina expanded and intensified on this week’s map. The map also showed drought getting worse in Texas and New Mexico.

Drought intensified in Kansas and Oklahoma but remained unchanged in Nebraska, with more than three-quarters of the state in exceptional drought, the worst category. This week’s U.S. Drought Monitor author, David Miskus, with the Climate Prediction Center, noted, “No changes were made in western Kansas and most of Nebraska as much of it is already in D3-D4, leaving little room for downgrade.”

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. The percent area of the U.S. in moderate to extreme drought since 1895 is online:

U.S. Drought Monitor map and narrative summary:

National Climatic Data Center’s State of the Climate Drought Summary:

Seasonal Drought Outlook:

U.S. Department of Agriculture's Crops in Drought report for Oct. 16, 2012.

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

-- Kelly Helm Smith, National Drought Mitigation Center