Latest Seasonal Assessment -
During the past month, a majority of the ongoing drought areas improved throughout the continental U.S. with the largest improvement occurring across central and southern California. The coverage of severe (D2) to exceptional (D4) drought over the continental U.S. is at its lowest since October 2010.
The drought outlook valid from February 16, 2017 through May 31, 2017 is based on initial conditions including snow and reservoir levels across the western U.S., 7-day precipitation forecasts, extended range (6-10/8-14 day) precipitation and temperature outlooks, the CPC March through May (MAM) precipitation and temperature outlooks, and climatology.
Based on the anomalously wet winter, additional heavy precipitation likely during the remainder of February, and a relatively wet climatology through March, continued improvement or removal of drought is forecast across most of central and southern California. However, long-term hydrological impacts across California may persist beyond this wet season. The seasonal precipitation outlook and climatology favor removal of drought across parts of the northern Great Basin, northern Rockies, and northern high Plains. Removal or improvement of drought is also forecast across central and eastern Oklahoma along with parts of Arkansas and Missouri, which become increasingly wet during the outlook period. Prospects for broad scale improvement diminish across the central and southern high Plains since their climatology becomes wetter later in the spring and summer. Therefore, persistence is most likely for the long-term drought area over the central and southern high Plains. The moderate drought area along the middle Texas Gulf Coast is expected to be short-lived due to heavy rainfall forecast during the next week, while persistence or a slight expansion of drought is favored across the lower Rio Grande Valley.
The highest forecast confidence for the eastern U.S. exists across south Florida where persistence and development is forecast due to a lack of rainfall coupled with periods of unseasonably warm temperatures this winter, and a relatively dry time of year. The onset of the convective rainfall season typically begins in late May across south Florida.
Improvement and removal of drought is forecast for the southern Appalachians and Tennessee Valley since late February and March are a relatively wet time of year and the March outlook calls for an increased chance of above-median precipitation. Short-term drought across the mid-Atlantic is expected to persist and potentially expand during the next week or two. Without support for a protracted drought among the precipitation tools at the longer range, improvement and removal of drought is most likely for the mid-Atlantic by the end of May, albeit with low confidence. Improvement and removal of drought is also forecast across the Northeast.
Climatology favors removal of the small drought areas along the leeward sides of Kauai, Maui, and the Big Island of Hawaii. Alaska and Puerto Rico are expected to remain drought-free through the end of May.
Forecaster: Brad Pugh
Next Seasonal Outlook issued: March 16, 2017 at 8:30 AM EDT
Seasonal Drought Outlook Discussion