Latest Seasonal Assessment -
After drought (D1-D4) in the contiguous U.S. rose to 21.2% in late October (from a minimum of 2.3% on April 23) when late summer and early autumn flash drought conditions overspread the Southeast and mid-Atlantic, wet weather across the eastern half of the Nation during the past 90-days have nearly eliminated drought east of the Mississippi River. As of Jan. 7, drought declined to just 11.2% of the lower 48 States, confined to the southern Plains, Four Corners region, and Pacific Northwest. With the expected continuation of storms traversing most of the contiguous U.S. (except in California and the Southwest), improvement of drought is likely in the southern Plains and extreme northern sections of the Pacific Northwest. Likewise in Hawaii, with recent heavy rains and favorable odds for above-normal February and FMA rainfall during the wet season, drought should improve. In contrast, persistent high pressure over the North Pacific Ocean is expected to continue, diverting storm systems to the north and south and away from California and parts of the Southwest. As a result, development of drought by the end of April is possible in southern Oregon and northern California. In the Four Corners Region, with no clear tilt of precipitation (EC) out through April, persistence was the best bet. Similarly in Alaska, the small D1 area in the southeastern Panhandle is long-term drought, and with no clear precipitation signal and a declining rainfall climatology, persistence was the forecast there. In Puerto Rico, unfortunately hit by a strong earthquake, recent rains have eliminated the last small D1 area in the southeast.
Forecaster: David Miskus
Next Seasonal Outlook issued: February 20, 2020 at 8:30 AM EST
Seasonal Drought Outlook Discussion