Latest Monthly Assessment -
Drought increased in coverage across the southeast quarter of the continental U.S. during February, while major drought reduction continued across California. The coverage of drought across California is at its lowest since December 2011.
The monthly drought outlook valid for March 2017 is based on precipitation and temperature during the past few weeks, 7-day precipitation forecasts, extended range (6-10/8-14 day) precipitation and temperature outlooks, the CPC March precipitation and temperature outlooks, and climatology.
The anomalous wet February favors continued improvement and removal of drought north of Los Angeles as impacts ease, while the remaining drought areas of southern California and Arizona are expected to persist as the storm track shifts north early in the month. Removal of the small drought areas of eastern Oregon and western Oregon is forecast due to a wet signal among the guidance throughout March.
Long-term drought is likely to persist across the high Plains given the dry climatology, while enhanced odds for below-median precipitation and above-normal temperatures during March favor persistence and development of drought across parts of the central and southern Plains along with northwest Arkansas and Missouri. Drought is most likely to persist across the eastern U.S. due to its long-term duration except for central Pennsylvania, the Hudson River Valley, Vermont, and northeast Mississippi, where precipitation is expected to be heavier early in the month. Drought is expected to develop across parts of southern Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina, due to recent dryness and warmth along with a relatively dry start to March. Elsewhere, short-term drought is forecast to persist and expand across the central and southern Florida peninsula.
Heavy rainfall early in March is expected to result in drought removal across the Big Island of Hawaii. Alaska and Puerto Rico are expected to remain drought-free through the end of March.
Forecaster: Brad Pugh
Next Monthly Outlook issued: March 31, 2017 at 3pm EDT
Monthly Drought Outlook Discussion