National Drought Summary -- October 01, 2019

The discussion in the Looking Ahead section is simply a description of what the official national guidance from the National Weather Service (NWS) National Centers for Environmental Prediction is depicting for current areas of dryness and drought. The NWS forecast products utilized include the HPC 5-day QPF and 5-day Mean Temperature progs, the 6-10 Day Outlooks of Temperature and Precipitation Probability, and the 8-14 Day Outlooks of Temperature and Precipitation Probability, valid as of late Wednesday afternoon of the USDM release week. The NWS forecast web page used for this section is:

Warmer than normal temperatures dominated the eastern two-thirds of the country, with many areas having temperatures that were 9 to 15 degrees above normal. Cooler than normal temperatures dominated the western portions of the country into the northern Rocky Mountains. Very dry conditions also dominated regions in the southern Plains, southern Midwest and along most of the east coast. The heat and dryness have continued setting the stage for rapidly developing drought, impacting mainly agricultural sectors right now.

Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico

In Hawaii, a small area of extreme drought was added on the southern tip of the Big Island in response to deteriorating conditions in that part of the state. In Puerto Rico, a full category improvement was made in response to tropical rains that came to the island. In Alaska, the short-term dryness that predicated much of the drought was improved upon. On the mainland of Alaska, a full category improvement was made except for Kodiak Island and in the panhandle of southeast Alaska, moderate drought was improved upon.

High Plains

Temperatures were warmest over the southern portion of the area and were actually below normal over the northern. Much of Kansas and Nebraska were 6-12 degrees above normal while North Dakota and portions of northern South Dakota were 3-6 degrees below normal. Precipitation was just as varied over the region with much of North Dakota, eastern Nebraska, and eastern Kansas recording over 200 percent of normal precipitation. Conditions were dry in western Kansas, Colorado, western Nebraska and southeast South Dakota. Some of these areas welcomed the drier weather while dryness and drought are becoming a concern in southwest Kansas and into Colorado. Abnormally dry conditions were expanded over southeast Colorado in response to the recent dryness.


Warmer than normal conditions dominated the region, helping to add some late growing degree days to the late planted crops. Temperatures were 9 to 12 degrees above normal in the southern portions while they were 6 to 9 degrees above normal farther to the north. A strong line of thunderstorms came across the region during the period, bringing with them significant rain over areas of Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan. The southern portions of the region remained dry, especially over Kentucky, southern Indiana, Ohio, and Illinois. A mix of changes were made this week with a full category improvement over central Illinois and northern Indiana and into southern Michigan. Abnormally dry conditions were removed from eastern Iowa as well. Conditions rapidly continued to deteriorate over Kentucky and areas just north of Kentucky. Severe drought was expanded widely over Kentucky this week with a new area of extreme drought over eastern Kentucky. Most all the rest of Kentucky was downgraded to moderate drought while areas of southern Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio had moderate drought and abnormally dry conditions expand. Abnormally dry conditions were also expanded to cover much of southeast Missouri.


Temperatures were near normal in the northern portions of the region, 3 to 6 degrees above normal through the central, and 6-9 degrees above normal in the south, which has been consistent with the last 30 days. Most of the region was dry this last week with just areas of western Pennsylvania and along the border with Canada recording above-normal precipitation. The warm and dry pattern has expanded over much of the region and even down to the Mid-Atlantic. The only change made this week was to expand the abnormally dry conditions in eastern Massachusetts slightly to the north, capturing one of the drier areas and where streamflow levels are dropping. Degradation was also noted in West Virginia with an expansion of moderate and severe drought in the southern portions of the state while moderate drought was expanded in eastern Maryland.


Warmer than normal temperatures dominated the region, with most areas 6 to 12 degrees warmer than normal for the week. The warmest temperatures were in central Oklahoma to central Texas. Most areas were precipitation free this week with only portions of the Texas panhandle, northern Arkansas, and eastern Oklahoma having recorded significant precipitation. Most of the rain in the Texas panhandle was observed right at the data cutoff for this week with some improvements being made to moderate drought, but the area will be looked at again and drought will be assessed next week. Improvements were made in far northeast Texas in response to recent rains. Degradations were widespread in Texas with several new areas of extreme drought in central to eastern portions of the state and more severe drought being represented in the state. Drought was also expanded in portions of southern Arkansas, northern Louisiana and all of Mississippi.


The warm and dry pattern continued over the region, with temperatures for the week generally 9 to 12 degrees above normal. Most of the region was dry with only small, isolated pockets of observed precipitation. Many areas had their warmest and driest September on record, accelerating the drought conditions in the region with dryness going back 8 to 10 weeks now with associated high temperatures. In areas from Virginia south into northern Florida, degradation was widespread, with many new areas of severe and extreme drought added. Outside of coastal areas impacted by recent tropical weather, almost the entire region is abnormally dry or worse, with many areas seeing multiple class degradation over the last several weeks. New areas of extreme drought were added to Kentucky, Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina.


An active weather pattern was evident over the West this week with 4 to 5 feet of snow over portions of Montana, rain and snow in the Pacific Northwest, and rains over portions of the southwest. Areas from the Great Basin to the northern Rocky Mountains recorded over 400 percent of normal precipitation, with several feet of snow in portions of Montana. Rain was also observed in areas of southern California, southern Arizona and New Mexico. Improvements were made to the moderate drought in the Pacific Northwest, eliminating it from the region. The long-term dryness is still evident, but the short-term precipitation has allowed for the improvements. Abnormally dry conditions were also improved in western Washington and into western Oregon. In Arizona, the rains allowed for moderate drought to be improved in the central portion of the state and for the removal of abnormally dry conditions in the southeast portion of the state. Abnormally dry conditions were also removed from most of southern California.

Looking Ahead:

Over the next 5-7 days, precipitation is anticipated to continue over the Midwest, Plains and areas of the Southwest, with the greatest amounts anticipated over Kansas and Missouri. Precipitation tries to work farther south, with areas of Kentucky and Tennessee and West Virginia being at the center of the greatest precipitation totals of 1 to 2 inches. Dry conditions are expected over much of the West as well as from the Mid-Atlantic to Florida. Temperatures during this time are forecast to be above normal over the Southeast and Southwest, with departures of 3 to 6 degrees above normal. Cooler than normal conditions are expected over the Plains and Pacific Northwest with temperatures 3 to 6 degrees below normal.

The 6-10 day outlooks show that the Plains, upper Midwest, and Southwest, including western Alaska, has above-normal chances of observing above-normal temperatures, with the greatest chances over the Southwest and Southeast. The Pacific Northwest and southeast Alaska have above-normal chances of below-normal temperatures. The areas that have the greatest chances of above-normal precipitation during this time are along the east coast, Alaska, and the Pacific Northwest. Much of the Plains, Midwest, South, and Rocky Mountains have the greatest chances of below-normal precipitation.

Author: Brian Fuchs, National Drought Mitigation Center

Dryness Categories
D0...Abnormally Dry...used for areas showing dryness but not yet in drought, or for areas recovering from drought.

Drought Intensity Categories
D1...Moderate Drought
D2...Severe Drought
D3...Extreme Drought
D4...Exceptional Drought

Drought or Dryness Types