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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 - Since the previous outlook issued on November 20, drought improvement occurred across parts of northern California but protracted extreme to exceptional drought continues for much of California. Long-term drought also remains entrenched across much of the central and southern Great Plains. Meanwhile, short-term drought intensified across parts of the lower Mississippi Valley and central Gulf Coast.

The drought outlook valid from December 18, 2014 through March 31, 2015 is based primarily on initial conditions, the CPC January-March (JFM) precipitation outlook, and climatology. A tilt in the odds towards above-median precipitation during a wet time of year favors additional drought improvement across California. However, it should be noted that long-term drought conditions are expected to remain beyond March. Snowfall in the Sierras will be critical to ensure adequate water supplies during the spring and summer. Improvement is also expected across coastal areas of southwest Oregon, while persistence or development is favored for the remainder of the Pacific Northwest and Idaho. Snow-water equivalent values are generally low across much of the Great Basin and Four Corners region, making persistence more likely. Improvement or removal of drought forecast across the desert Southwest and southwest New Mexico is consistent with most precipitation tools during JFM.

The relatively dry climatology outweighs the tilt in the odds towards above-median precipitation across the central and southern Great Plains, where persistence is expected. Large-scale improvement of drought is not anticipated for this region until the convective season begins later in the spring. Prospects are slightly better for improvement or removal of drought for parts of northeastern and south-central Texas but confidence is low. Farther to the north, a dry climatology favors persistence for the small drought area across the eastern Dakotas.

Improvement and removal of drought is expected across the lower Mississippi Valley, central Gulf Coast, and Southeast due to expected rainfall in the short-term, the lack of a consistent dry signal among seasonal precipitation tools, and a typical increase in rainfall during March.

A dry signal among precipitation tools during JFM favors gradual drought development during the next three months across Hawaii.

Forecaster: B. Pugh

Next Seasonal Drought Outlook issued: January 15, 2015 at 8:30 AM EDT

Seasonal Drought Outlook Discussion

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