Wednesday, November 26, 2014
Current U.S. Drought Monitor

NOTE: To view regional drought conditions, click on map above. State maps can be accessed from regional maps

The data cutoff for Drought Monitor maps is Tuesday at 7 a.m. EST. The maps, which are based on analysis of the data, are released each Thursday at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time.

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The U.S. Drought Monitor is produced in partnership between the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the United States Department of Agriculture, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

For local details and impacts, please contact your State Climatologist or Regional Climate Center

National Drought Summary for Nov 25, 2014


An unsettled, somewhat milder weather pattern developed over the nation, with locally heavy rain in parts of the south affording some drought relief. Farther east, showers in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast mostly prevented expansion of abnormal dryness, though rain largely bypassed southern Pennsylvania during the period. Locally heavy downpours eased drought in the southeastern Plains. In contrast, the West’s core drought areas remained dry, though additional heavy rain and mountain snow were observed in parts of the Northwest.

Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico

There were no changes made to the drought depiction in Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico this week. In Alaska, persistent warmth (5-10°F above normal) was in sharp contrast to the lingering cold in the central and eastern contiguous U.S., with precipitation (locally more than 2 inches) generally confined to southern-most portions of the state. In Hawaii, showers tallied more than 2 inches on the Big Island, though the heaviest rain missed the state’s Abnormal Dryness (D0) and Moderate Drought (D1). In Puerto Rico, the heaviest rain (greater than 2 inches) fell east of the island’s small remaining D0, where streamflows still remain below the 20th percentile.

Central Plains

Despite a mostly dry, warmer week, the drought depiction over the central Plains remained unchanged. Long-term drought remained entrenched over the central High Plains, where precipitation dating back 36 months has tallied 60 to 75 percent of normal.

Delta and Southeast

Locally heavy rainfall led to reductions in drought coverage and intensity in the Southeast, while mostly dry but cool weather resulted in little, if any, change elsewhere. From southwestern North Carolina into Georgia and northern Florida, a surge of Gulf moisture resulted in 2 to 4 inches of rain (locally more), easing Abnormal Dryness (D0) to Severe Drought (D2). Rain was heaviest over the Florida Panhandle and southern Georgia, where widespread 4-inch totals were noted. Despite the rainfall, total-column soil moisture in the remaining D0, D1, and D2 areas remained below the 30th percentile, though temperatures more than 5°F below normal eased water requirements. Farther west, rain generally bypassed the central Gulf Coast region, where concerns over possible expansion of dryness and drought persist. In contrast, the southwestern corner of Arkansas received 1 to more than 2 inches of rain, resulting in some removal of D0.

Mid-Atlantic and Northeast

Chilly, showery conditions were again mostly sufficient to prevent widespread expansion of Abnormal Dryness (D0) in the region, with rainfall amounts averaging a half inch to more than one inch from southwestern Virginia into New England. However, D0 was expanded to include southern Pennsylvania, where rainfall amounts were less than 0.5 inch and 90-day precipitation was 50 to 70 percent of normal. The rain across the remainder of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast prevented a more widespread increase in Abnormal Dryness, particularly in central and northern Virginia, as the region copes with pronounced precipitation shortages dating back over the past 3 months. Areas downwind of the Great Lakes reported record snowfall, with rainy, warmer weather at the end of the period enhancing the risk for localized flooding.


Chilly, wet weather in the eastern Corn Belt contrasted with milder and increasingly dry conditions in western and northern portions of the Midwest. Despite the generally cool weather pattern (5 to 9°F below normal), a surge of warm air caused rain to fall from southeaster Iowa into the lower Great Lakes region; precipitation totals for the period averaged 1 to locally more than 2 inches, preventing any expansion of Abnormal Dryness. In fact, the precipitation supported the removal of the lingering Abnormal Dryness (D0) in northwestern Ohio and southern Michigan. Farther north and west, pronounced short-term dryness resulted in widespread expansion of Abnormal Dryness (D0) from Nebraska northward into the Upper Midwest. Precipitation over the past 90 days has totaled less than 50 percent of normal in many of the new D0 areas, and locally less than 40 percent in southwestern Nebraska and eastern North Dakota. Impacts during this time of year are generally minor — if any — due to the region’s cold winter-time climate.

Ohio and Tennessee Valleys

There were no major changes to dryness/drought designation as cool, unsettled weather prevailed over much of the area. Precipitation — mostly in the form of rain — was heaviest in northern and western portions of the region, where amounts during the period totaled more than an inch. In contrast, dryness concerns persist in central and eastern Ohio, where 90-day precipitation has averaged 50 to 75 percent of normal.

Southern Plains and Texas

Dry weather in western portions of the region contrasted with locally heavy downpours in the east. The drought depiction over the southern High Plains remained unchanged, with widespread Severe (D2) to Extreme (D3) drought noted from western Kansas into northern Texas. Farther east, moderate to heavy rain was noted in south-central Oklahoma, with numerous reports of 3 to more than 5 inches west of Lake Texoma. Likewise, moderate to heavy rainfall (1 to 6 inches) was noted across much of central and eastern Texas, with the highest concentration of heavy rain near San Antonio and Austin. Consequently, there were widespread reductions to drought intensity and coverage in the areas where rain was heaviest.

Western U.S.

Unsettled conditions in the north contrasted with ongoing drought elsewhere. Despite the northern precipitation, there were no changes to the drought depiction as experts in the field await further information regarding the potential benefits of the precipitation. Farther south, additional drought increases were likewise put on hold as all eyes turn toward the much-anticipated arrival of moisture later in the upcoming period.

For the second consecutive week, a steady plume of Pacific moisture produced 1 to more than 4 inches (liquid equivalent) of precipitation in northern portions of the Cascade Range, with lesser totals (0.5 to 1.6 inches liquid equivalent) noted farther east in the northern Rockies. Despite the beneficial moisture, the drought areas of southwestern Oregon are still contending with the impacts of last season’s poor end to the Water Year; 12-month precipitation averaged 65 to 85 percent of normal in the state’s remaining drought areas, though deficits diminished somewhat.

Despite a southward shift of the precipitation over the period, the moisture during the week not sufficient to afford drought relief to California. The rain, which tallied locally more than 2 inches in northern California, will certainly benefit pastures and begin the process of aiding reservoirs. However, the moisture still fell well short of what is needed to ease the impacts of a three-year drought. In the core Extreme (D3) to Exceptional (D4) Drought areas north of Sacramento (where the bulk of this week’s rain fell), the 36-month precipitation averaged 60 to 75 percent of normal. Farther south, the abysmal start to the current Water Year (which began October 1) continued; rainfall to-date (since October 1) has totaled 20 to 50 percent of normal in the Exceptional Drought (D4) areas around San Francisco, and locally less than 20 percent of normal in the D4 around Los Angeles. Likewise, the dry, mostly mild start to the winter has left snowpacks in the Sierra Nevada well short of normal.

In the Great Basin and Four Corners, there were no changes to this week’s drought depiction despite the very poor start to the current Water Year, particularly in western portions of the region. The season’s poor initial prospects are reflected by season-to-date (since October 1) precipitation, which has totaled locally less than 10 percent of normal in the Great Basin and western portions of the central and southern Rockies, with most areas reporting less than 30 percent of normal. Changes to the drought depiction across much of the west are typically slow to occur during the early part of winter, as the development of the Water Year will be crucial to the region’s drought relief (or development) prospects.

Looking Ahead

An East Coast storm will disrupt holiday travel but provide additional, soaking rainfall to the Southeast while rain and snow fall over the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast. In the middle of the country, some snow is expected across the Upper Midwest and northern Plains, while dry weather prevails elsewhere. Out west, periods of rain and mountain snow will continue across the northern Rockies and Northwest. Meanwhile, much of California and the western Great Basin may receive rain and mountain snow from a late-week storm system, while unfavorably dry conditions prevail in the Four Corners region. The NWS 6- to 10-day outlook for December 1–5 calls for near- to above-normal temperatures nationwide, except for colder-than-normal conditions across the northern Plains and Upper Midwest. Meanwhile, above-normal precipitation in the eastern and western U.S., including California, will contrast with drier-than-normal weather across central and southern portions of the Rockies and Plains.

Eric Luebehusen, U.S. Department of Agriculture

View a printable narrative here.

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