The map includes data through Tuesday mornings with the current U.S. Drought Monitor period being from the previous Tuesday morning to the current Tuesday morning. This means that rain has to have fallen within this window to be included in that week’s analysis. This is done to provide a consistent, week‐to‐week product and to give the author a window to assess the data and come up with a final map.
A first draft is emailed to field or local experts, usually by the close of business on Monday. This map is a work in progress, and provides the impetus for that week’s discussion.
Tuesday is a very busy day, with dozens of emails, several conference calls, and sometimes individual phone calls. Authors will release a second draft, and sometimes even a third draft, by the end of the day on Tuesday.
By noon, Eastern time on Wednesday, the authors send out a near‐final draft. Authors typically do not make additional changes to the map after approximately 2:00 PM Eastern. Sometimes late, key input will make the cut, but usually input received after that time is passed on to the next author.
A final draft map is sent out between 3:00 and 4:00 PM to make sure there are no errors or other egregious mistakes.
The author also composes a national narrative, broken down by regions, highlighting the past week’s weather and USDM changes.
Around 5:00 PM, the final map files and the narrative are sent to the National Drought Mitigation Center for processing.
On Thursday, at 8:30 AM, Eastern Time, the official USDM map and narrative are released on the NDMC website. The cycle repeats the following week. Note that the authors primary job responsibilities do not get put on hold.