Latest Seasonal Assessment -
Drought coverage continued to decrease across the West through mid-March as frequent precipitation with high-elevation snow fell from California east to the central and southern Rockies. California became drought-free for the first time since December 2011. Although drought intensity has eased across the Four Corners region, long-term severe to extreme drought remains in parts of New Mexico. Areas from the Mississippi Valley to the East Coast are nearly drought-free with major flooding continuing along parts of the lower Missouri River and middle to lower Mississippi River. Long-term drought persists along the Alaska Panhandle, while small areas of Hawaii and Puerto Rico are designated with moderate drought.
Drought improvement or removal is forecast for the Great Basin and Southwest based largely on the above average snow water content across Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah and recharge associated with the snowmelt this spring. Increased chances for above average precipitation during AMJ support drought improvement or removal across parts of Texas.
Due to the wet winter and high soil moisture, drought development is unlikely at this time across the central and eastern U.S. However, any periods with multiple weeks of insufficient rainfall and abnormal heat later this spring and into the summer could result in fast development of drought. Please refer to future monthly drought outlooks that are more likely to capture these types of short-term droughts.The most likely area for development across the continental U.S. is northwest Oregon and western Washington where precipitation deficits are large for the water-year-to-date (since October 1, 2018) and 28-day streamflows are low. The seasonal outlook for AMJ, with its enhanced odds for above normal temperatures and below normal precipitation, also supports development for parts of the Pacific Northwest by the end of June.
Drought development is also forecast on the leeward sides of the Hawaiian Islands. A drier climatology during AMJ and the seasonal precipitation outlook favor persistence of long-term drought in the Alaska Panhandle. Puerto Rico is expected to become drought-free by the end of June as rainfall typically increases during May and June.
Forecaster: Brad Pugh
Next Seasonal Outlook issued: April 18, 2019 at 8:30 AM EDT
Seasonal Drought Outlook Discussion