Latest Seasonal Assessment -
Drought coverage across the country progressively declined through most of the first half of 2017, declining to less than 4 percent of the 50 states plus Puerto Rico in late May. During the first half of June, drought expanded and intensified in both the northern Plains and interior southwestern Alaska, with some recent development in the west-central Mississippi Valley. As a result, coverage increased to near 8 percent in early June, which is still low by historical standards. Outside the Plains and Alaska, drought continued to improve during the past four weeks in the Southeast and, to a lesser extent, the southern Plains. Conditions in the Southwest were unchanged, as they were in most of the western parts of the Big Island of Hawaii. Further improvement is expected in the Southeast and most of the southern Plains by the end of September, with the small areas of drought near the Red River of the South expected to persist. Areas near these patches of drought, along with much of the eastern half of Oklahoma, have been somewhat dry recently, and while there are no enhanced chances for drought development in any specific location, drought may develop and intensify quickly should any substantial period of heat and subnormal rainfall occur. Drought recently developed and intensified across the northern Plains and part of the west-central Mississippi Valley, but improvement or removal is forecast in these areas due to enhanced chances for a wetter-than-normal July-September in the northern Plains, and heavy rainfall in the near-term across northern Missouri. Drought is expected to improve in most of southern Arizona and New Mexico where monsoonal rains usually make July-September a very wet time of year, but persistence is expected in southern California and adjacent southwestern Arizona, which are usually to the west of the monsoonal rains. Recent drought development across interior southwestern Alaska helped spark a few wildfires, but July-September is usually somewhat wet there, and the last few droughts that developed during spring in Alaska were alleviated by late summer or early autumn, and the same is expected this year. In contrast, most of the drought on the western half of the Big Island in Hawaii is expected to persist, though wetter climatology in a small part of the drought area in northwesternmost parts of the Island led to a forecast of removal there.
Forecaster: Rich Tinker
Next Seasonal Outlook issued: July 20, 2017 at 8:30 AM EDT
Seasonal Drought Outlook Discussion