Latest Monthly Assessment -
Overall, the West saw an increase in drought coverage for the month of February as the rainy season never picked up. Persistence and expansion are favored for March over much of California, extending eastward from the Lake Tahoe area into western Nevada. Development over the Pacific Northwest is mainly designated to Oregon, with below-normal snowpack overall for the state. Although above-normal precipitation is favored for March in the Southwest, drought persistence is expected for now as amounts are not favored to overcome existing deficits in drought areas. Drought areas over southwestern Oklahoma have diminished in size over the course of February. However, with dry conditions favored in the 6-10 day period and the lack of a precipitation signal for the month of March as a whole, persistence is expected. Drought persistence is also favored for southern areas of Texas, with additional development likely over coastal areas, from Houston southward, and areas near and west of San Antonio. Drought development is also favored over extreme southeastern Louisiana, with 6 month rainfall deficits of 12 to 16 inches and water-year-to-date deficits of 8 to 12 inches. Although recent rainfall has provided some temporary relief to the Florida Panhandle, equal chances for above- or below-normal precipitation are favored through March, which warrant persistence for now. However, the Florida Peninsula, particularly central and southern portions, favors below-normal precipitation, which favors drought development for D0 areas near and south of Tampa, as year-to-date precipitation is 25 to 50 percent of normal. With generally wet antecedent conditions for the remainder of the CONUS, coupled with a favored transient pattern, no drought development is expected for the High Plains, Midwest, Northeast, and Southeast (north of the Gulf Coast).
An active storm track over Mainland Alaska during February, along with above normal precipitation favored for much of the mainland, make it unlikely for any drought development during March. Meanwhile, absent to weakly below-normal precipitation is favored in the models for the Alaska Panhandle. However, with recent above-normal precipitation over the panhandle, no drought development is expected. Hawaii has seen a continued decrease in drought coverage over the past month, and the models strongly favor above normal precipitation to continue, leading to an increased likelihood for drought improvement and removal. Northwestern portions of Puerto Rico have seen 1 to 2 inches of rainfall over the past 7 days. Although there is a small area of D0 in northwestern Puerto Rico, an absent precipitation signal warrants status quo for now, with no drought development favored.
Forecaster: Adam Hartman
Next Monthly Outlook issued: March 31, 2020 at 3 PM EDT
Monthly Drought Outlook Discussion