Latest Seasonal Assessment -
Although there have been regional changes in intensity, the areas covered by drought have not changed significantly in the past 30 days. There's been some improvement along the northern tier of New England, in parts of the interior Southeast where extreme to exceptional drought was observed, across eastern Texas and the adjacent lower Mississippi Valley, and through the northern sections of both South Dakota and New Mexico. In contrast, drought expanded or deteriorated in southern New England and the interior mid-Atlantic region, the Ohio Valley, the eastern and southern periphery of the Southeastern drought region, portions of the south-central and western Plains, and some leeward sections of the Hawaii.
The seasonal drought outlook valid from December 15, 2016 to March 31, 2017 largely follows the 3-Month Precipitation Outlook, with adjustments made for climatology, the time of year, and expected conditions during the last half of December. A general pattern of improvement or removal is forecast for the north side of areas experiencing drought, with conditions persiststing or worsening farther south.
Most areas of the Northeast are expecting at least limited improvement by the end of March, specifically interior areas that typically accumulate a deeper snowpack, and in areas of D3 (extreme drought) where removal is highly unlikely, but enough precipitation should fall to ease conditions slightly. Farther south, conditions should ease in the Ohio Valley and upper Southeast, but areas farther south, reaching down to the Gulf Coast, drought is expected to persist or worsen. Some expansion is anticipated into eastern Texas and the southernmost Mississippi Valley, as well as across northern Florida and adjacent southeastern Georgia.
Drought is not expected to improve in the central and southern Plains, where this is a drier time of year, but the Black Hills and surrounding areas, in addition to the drought areas in the central and northern Rockies and Intermountain West, should see some improvement. Areas from the southern tier of the West into central California outside the Sierra Nevada can expect persisting or worsening drought conditions, but improvement is anticipated farther north. In the leeward sections of Hawaii, with odds tilting toward a wet 3-month period, improvement or removal is expected.
Forecaster: Rich Tinker
Next Seasonal Drought Outlook issued: January 19, 2017 at 8:30 AM EST.
Seasonal Drought Outlook Discussion