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 HOME > Expert Assessments > Drought Information > Monthly Drought Outlook
United States Monthly Drought Outlook Graphic - click on image to enlarge
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Latest Monthly Assessment - In the last 2 weeks, since the release of the last Seasonal Drought Outlook, many areas across the southern Plains and the south Atlantic coastal states saw at least limited improvement. Drought persisted or deteriorated in areas along the central Gulf Coast, and was generally unchanged from the High Plains westward, including Hawaii.

During December, the pattern of slow, patchy improvement in the southern Plains is expected to continue, but other areas of drought should persist or possibly deteriorate during the month. In the region of improvement, odds favor above-normal December precipitation, with an episode of heavy rain possible by mid-month. In addition, an increase in modeled soil moisture content is not uncommon in this region during December, which is not the case farther west and north in the central and southwestern Plains. Notable drought improvement is not anticipated in this region because it is climatologically drier in winter, making improvement unlikely even with above-normal precipitation.

Odds do not favor a wet December in the drought areas in the northern Plains, the Southeast, and the Northeast. In fact, some indicators point toward sub-normal precipitation for the first half of the month, making improvement by the end of December unlikely.

Drought is expected to persist where it exists across the Intermountain West and Far West, including California. Odds favor above-normal December precipitation throughout these areas, except in the central and northern Intermountain West, and December is one of the wetter months climatologically in the West, especially California. However, the end of December is still early in the wet season, and considering the entrenched multi-year nature of the drought in California, conditions are not expected to improve substantially by the end of the month (although the Seasonal Drought Outlook indicates that improvement is likely by the end of winter). The Weather Prediction Center forecasts 3 to locally 7 inches of precipitation for the first week of December in northern and central sections of both the mountains and the western coastline. However, precipitation amounts are over a foot below normal here for the past year, and 2-year shortfalls are almost twice as large in some sections. In addition, December normals are large, so it will take more than one or even a few such episodes to bring the 1- to 3-year accumulated deficits down substantially.

The odds favor drier than normal weather in Hawaii during December, and indeed for the winter as a whole. Drought should persist where it exists, but December should not be dry enough to bring expansive drought development by the end of the year.

Forecaster: R. Tinker

Next Monthly Drought Outlook issued: December 31, 2014 at 3:00 PM EDT

Monthly Drought Outlook Discussion

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