Lincoln, Neb. -- The drought that now blankets all but the northernmost of the western United States eased in the High Plains but intensified in the Southwest in the week that ended June 4, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.
Heavy rains in the Great Plains, Midwest and northern areas of the West brought improvements in those areas, said David Simeral, this week’s U.S. Drought Monitor author. Worsening conditions in other parts of the West reflected the dry winter and spring months.
The area of the 48 continental states in moderate drought or worse declined to 44.11 percent from 44.34 percent a week earlier, according to statistics released with the map, with the area in severe drought showing the greatest change, to 28.49 percent from 29.56 percent. The area in exceptional drought, the worst category, increased slightly, to 4.79 percent, from 4.74 percent, with most of the increase occurring in west central Texas.
Drought intensified in western Kansas but eased in the eastern parts of the state. Drought also eased in eastern Oklahoma, showing a particularly sharp gradient between areas that have and haven’t had rain. The Oklahoma Climatological Survey reported that El Reno, Oklahoma, the site of the EF-5 tornado on May 31, had a 30-day total rainfall accumulation of 12.65 inches while Watonga, about 40 miles away, had only 2.4 inches for the same period.
Texas had a mixed bag of changes, with improvements in the Panhandle (from exceptional to extreme drought) and eastern parts of the state. But western and north central parts of the state got worse.
To the west, drought intensified in southern Idaho, southeast Oregon, the Four Corners region of Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and Utah, and southern and central California. Nevada had a reduction in extreme drought but moderate and severe drought expanded, and Utah had incremental changes both for the better and for the worse. Drought also got worse in southern Alabama.
Drought eased in Nebraska, South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming and Florida.
U.S. 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. Simeral is with the Western Regional Climate Center.
The map is released each Thursday based on data through the previous Tuesday morning.
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. U.S. Drought Monitor data online goes back to January 2000.
U.S. Drought Monitor map, statistics and narrative summary: http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu
Drought Impact Reporter: http://droughtreporter.unl.edu
USDA’s weekly “Agriculture in Drought” analysis:
National Climatic Data Center’s State of the Climate Drought Summary:
Seasonal Drought Outlook: