National Drought Mitigation Center


U.S. Drought Monitor shows improvement in Plains, more drought in Southeast

November 15, 2012

The Nov. 13 U.S. Drought Monitor map showed small decreases in all categories of drought, with improvements in the High Plains and degradations in the Southeast.

Statistics released with the U.S. Drought Monitor map showed that 49.24 percent of the country was in moderate drought or worse, down slightly from 49.79 percent the week before. The map showed 30.10 percent in severe drought or worse, compared with 31.84 percent a week earlier; 15.31 percent in extreme drought or worse, compared with 16.19 percent the week before; and 5.02 percent in exceptional drought, down from 5.16 the preceding week.

In the High Plains, this week’s map showed 93.88 percent in moderate drought or worse, down from 96.46 percent the week before, a small increase in severe drought, and small decreases in extreme and exceptional drought. In contrast, in the Southeast, the map showed 25.10 percent in moderate drought or worse, an increase from 22.90 percent last week, with small increases in severe and extreme drought and a small decrease in exceptional 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 normally released each Thursday based on data through the previous Tuesday, but next week it will be released on Wednesday because Thursday is the Thanksgiving holiday.

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 running tally of farm and food impacts from the Drought of 2012:

-- Kelly Helm Smith, National Drought Mitigation Center