Latest Seasonal Assessment -
Since mid-June 2020, changes in drought severity were highly variable, with areas of improvement intertwined with areas of intensification. But overall, there was more deterioration than improvement. A few areas of rapid intensification (2 or more categories) were noted in New England (primarily Maine), much of the Plains, and part of the upper Midwest. Steep short-term rainfall deficits and persistently above-normal temperatures sparked drought in these areas, where no dryness was evident four weeks earlier.
But despite the rapid development in those areas, the most intense drought in the country (D3, extreme drought) covered about the same areas as in mid-June -- the southern half of Colorado, adjacent areas in northern New Mexico and southwestern Kansas, several patches in the Texas and Oklahoma Panhandles, parts of eastern New Mexico and adjacent western Texas, and farther west in sections of Oregon and northern California.
Over the course of the next few months (through October 2020), the pattern of drought intensity changes should effectively split the contiguous states into two areas. Improvement is anticipated in drought areas from the Northeast and Appalachians westward across the northern Ohio Valley, upper Midwest, and northern Plains. To the south and west of this swath -- across the rest of the contiguous United States -- existing drought should persist or intensify. In addition, drought is forecast to expand into much of central and southwestern Texas, plus a few isolated areas in northwestern Texas, northeastern Colorado, and along the northern reaches of the New Mexico/Arizona border. Thus, broad areas of severe to extreme drought (D2 to D3) should continue affecting large areas from the Plains westward through California and the Northwest.
Drought in the central High Plains may push eastward into central Kansas early in the period, but any development is not expected to last through October 2020, so no development is depicted on the map.
Drought in Hawaii is expected to persist or worsen, expanding into central and southern sections of the Big Island, much of Lanai, and part of south-central Mauai by the end of the period. In contrast, increasing rainfall across Puerto Rico over the next few months should bring drought improvement (D2) and removal (D1) commonwealth-wide.
Forecaster: Rich Tinker
Next Seasonal Outlook issued: August 20, 2020 at 8:30 AM EDT
Seasonal Drought Outlook Discussion