Latest Monthly Assessment -
According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, drought coverage across the contiguous U.S. (CONUS) peaked at 62.95 percent during late October 2022. Since that time, a steady decrease in drought coverage and intensity occurred across much of the West, northern Great Plains, and Midwest. The coverage of severe (D2) to exceptional (D4) drought is at its lowest since August 2020. Based on an above-average snowpack and the March outlook favoring above-normal precipitation and below-normal temperatures, continued drought improvement or removal is forecast for much of California and the Great Basin. Farther to the north across the northwestern CONUS, water-year-to-date precipitation (October 1, 2022 to February 27, 2023), has averaged below-normal which supports the persistence of long-term drought. Broad-scale persistence is also the most likely outcome for a majority of the ongoing drought across the Great Plains, since March is a relatively dry time of year. Recent wetness and additional precipitation at the beginning of March support improvement or removal across east-central Oklahoma. Increasing short-term precipitation deficits along with mostly dry weather early in the month favors development for parts of Texas. The highest forecast confidence for development exists across the Florida Peninsula due to an unseasonably warm, dry February and a likely dry start to March.
February precipitation averaged more than 200 percent of normal across much of the Midwest. This anomalous wetness along with elevated probabilities for above-normal precipitation forecast during March support drought improvement or removal for southern Minnesota and much of Iowa. Although February was drier-than-normal throughout the Northeast, this region is expected to remain drought-free. Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico are also likely to remain drought-free through the end of March.
Forecaster: Brad Pugh
Next Monthly Drought Outlook issued: March 31, 2023 at 3 PM EDT
Monthly Drought Outlook Discussion