Tools used in the U.S. Monthly Drought Outlook (MDO) included the official Climate Prediction Center (CPC) updated temperature
and precipitation outlooks for January 2015, various
short- and medium-range forecasts and models such as the 7-day
precipitation totals from the Weather Prediction Center (WPC), the 6-10 day and 8-14 day CPC forecasts, week 3 and 4
experimental outlooks, the NAEFS precipitation outlooks, dynamical models (CFSv2), the 384-hour total precipitation forecasts
from several runs of the GFS, climatology, the latest official Drought Monitor analysis (valid on December 30), observed
precipitation during the previous month, and initial conditions.
A wet late December resulted in the elimination of drought across Georgia and a decrease in drought coverage across much of
Alabama, the Florida Panhandle, Louisiana, and Mississippi. However, drought lingered along the central Gulf Coast. During the
next week, WPC indicates a widespread area of 1 to 3 inches of rainfall for the areas that remain in drought. This wet start
to the New Year, plus favorable odds for above-median precipitation in the 6-10 and 8-14 day and updated monthly forecasts,
indicates removal of short-term drought along the Gulf Coast.
Confidence in the forecast along the Gulf Coast is high.
Short-term drought persists across most of Arkansas, and unlike the remainder of the Southeast, this area received
below-normal rainfall during the past 30 days. Beneficial rains are expected to start in early January and potentially bring
some improvement to drought conditions. Since the Arkansas drought is characterized as moderate (D1) on the U.S. Drought
Monitor, removal is forecast. The most recent signals among precipitation tools beyond Week-1 have better consolidated, but
the recent dry spell slightly reduces forecast confidence as compared to the rest of the Southeast.
Confidence in the forecast for Arkansas is moderate.
Despite light to moderate precipitation to begin the New Year and a slight tilt in the odds towards above-median precipitation
forecast by the CPC January outlook, a relatively dry climatology and subnormal 60- and 90-day precipitation favors
persistence for most of the central and southern Plains. Similar to the previous monthly outlook valid for December 2014, the
greatest uncertainty is how much if any drought improvement or removal occurs across Texas. Higher precipitation totals
(1 inch or more) and a slightly wetter climatology during January favor improvement or removal for the drought areas in the
eastern half of Texas.
Confidence in the forecast for the central/southern Plains ranges from high on persistence to low on the areas of
A small area of drought (D1) is depicted on the U.S. Drought Monitor map for northeast South Dakota. The dry climatology and
generally frozen ground during the winter favors persistence through the end of January.
Confidence in the forecast for South Dakota is high.
Drought conditions across the southern Rockies, Great Basin, Southwest, and the West Coast are most likely to persist on a
broad scale. Although moderate to heavy snow is expected in the short-term across parts of the Southwest and southern Rockies,
much below-normal snow water equivalent values (50 percent of less as of December 30) favors persistence for these areas.
Typically, 14 to 20 percent of the annual precipitation occurs during January across California. This relatively wet
climatology argues for improvement for California; however, persistence is forecast because of (a) the entrenched, multi-year
nature of the drought in California and (b) a likely dry start to the month. Any improvement that is realized by the end of
January is expected to be small in scale which is unpredictable a month in advance.
Confidence in the forecast across the West is moderate.
Monthly precipitation tools for January, along with CFS precipitation forecasts during the next two weeks, indicate enhanced
odds for below-median precipitation across Hawaii. But with widespread moderate to heavy rains around Christmas, drought
expansion has been tempered. Therefore, the small areas of drought that exists should persist.
Confidence in the forecast for Hawaii is high.
Forecaster: Brad Pugh and David Miskus
Next Monthly Drought Outlook issued: January 31, 2015 at 3:00 PM EDT