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 HOME > Expert Assessments > Drought Information > Seasonal Drought Outlook Summary
United States Seasonal Drought Outlook Graphic - click on image to enlarge
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Latest Seasonal Assessment - A plume of subtropical moisture brought much needed rainfall to parts of northern California, coastal Oregon, and Washington during early February, generating modest drought reductions. The storms were the first to impact California since mid-December. Above-normal temperatures prevented any significant snowpack building, however, and snow water equivalent values across the Cascades and Sierra Nevadas remained well below average. Rainfall was also observed across southern Arizona, much of New Mexico, and western Texas, bringing localized drought improvements, although snow levels remain well below normal in these regions as well. In contrast, dry weather promoted drought expansion from the lower Mississippi Valley through the southern Ohio Valley, the upper Midwest, and far southern Florida. Much below normal temperatures overspread the northeastern CONUS, with heavy snowfall from multiple storm systems blanketing much of New England.

Precipitation climatology begins decreasing considerably during March across the West, and additional snowpack building becomes less likely during the transition into Spring. Mostly dry weather is forecast for the upcoming week across the West, with several dynamical models favoring a transition to a wetter pattern during early March. The CPC monthly and seasonal outlooks both tilt the odds towards below median precipitation from northern California northward, and it is unlikely that any precipitation falling during March would have a significant impact on drought conditions through May, especially given the much below normal snowpack conditions. Therefore, drought persistence is forecast for the West, with additional development possible across the Pacific Northwest. Although the CPC monthly and seasonal outlooks favor above-median precipitation across the Four Corners states, drought persistence is anticipated due to much below normal mountain snowpack conditions, low reservoir levels, and a relatively dry Spring climatology. In contrast, some drought improvements are possible across the north-central Rockies where current snowpack levels are near or above normal, and where May is a climatologically wetter month. Precipitation increases substantially across the central Plains during May, and with no tilt in the odds towards above or below median rainfall, some improvements to drought conditions are anticipated for southeastern Colorado, Kansas, and central Oklahoma. The prospects for significant drought reductions are less across western Oklahoma, most of Texas and eastern New Mexico, where long-term drought is entrenched and climatological late Spring rainfall is less likely to bring large scale improvements. Below normal snow coverage following a dry Fall season makes drought persistence and development more likely across much of the upper Midwest, while a robust late February storm system is forecast to bring several inches of rainfall across the lower Mississippi Valley, Tennessee Valley, and Ohio Valley, which is anticipated to improve drought conditions. A tilt in the odds towards above median precipitation across the Southeast favors improvements along the Gulf Coast and the Everglades, while drought conditions are anticipated to expand across Hawaii.

Forecaster: A. Allgood

Next Seasonal Drought Outlook issued: March 19, 2015 at 8:30 AM EDT

Seasonal Drought Outlook Discussion

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Page last modified: February 19, 2015
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