Latest Monthly Assessment -
Drought coverage (D1 or drier) across the 50 states and Puerto Rico has slowly risen to almost 10.4% by late July since dropping to a Drought Monitor record low of less than 4% on May 23 and then increasing to almost 8% by late June. Much of the expansion continued over the northern Plains (Montana and the Dakotas), but expanded southward into parts of the central and southern Plains as heat and subnormal rainfall has caused drought to develop and intensify rapidly. Other small-scale drought areas included extreme southern portions of the Southwest, southwestern Alaska, and in Hawaii's western Molokai, Maui, and the Big Island. In contrast, drought has been eliminated east of the Mississippi River.
During August, drought should persist across much of the northern Plains with expansion expected in western Montana, while some improvement is possible in extreme southern sections of the northern Plains (southeast South Dakota and Nebraska) as decent rains fell in late July (after the 7/25 USDM cutoff period), along with additional rains forecast in the QPF and 8-14 day ERF. Farther south and west, drought improvement is expected in the scattered areas across the southern Plains and parts of the Southwest as the southwest monsoon is expected to be robust during normally wet August. Above-median precipitation is also favored to stretch eastward into the southern Plains during August. The D1 in southwest Alaska should also be erased by the end of August. Drought persistence, however, is forecast in southern California and adjacent southwest Arizona where August climo and forecasted rains are much lighter, and across the eastern Hawaiian Islands as the windward wet season usually starts in the fall. A wild card for the islands, however, would be unexpected moisture from Pacific tropical system(s) such as last year.
Forecaster: David Miskus
Next Monthly Outlook issued: August 31, 2017 at 3pm EDT
Monthly Drought Outlook Discussion