Seasonal Drought Outlook Shows Dryness & Drought Intensifying

Posted on August 2, 2012

Source: NOAA


Latest Seasonal Assessment – Dryness and drought, exacerbated by above-normal temperatures, have been increasing both in extent and intensity across much of the central and northern U.S. Based upon the July 24 U.S. Drought Monitor, almost 64 percent of the contiguous U.S. was in drought (D1-D4), the highest such value for the U.S. Drought Monitor since its inception in 2000. The last time the lower 48 States had a comparable area of drought (based upon the monthly Palmer Drought Index) was in 1956, according to NCDC. The drought and heat arrived at a critical time for Midwestern agriculture, especially corn. The combination of heat and dryness has severely reduced the quality and quantity of the corn and soybean crop, with 48 percent of the corn and 37 percent of the soybeans rated as poor or very poor as of July 29 by NASS/USDA. Over half the corn was adversely rated in 8 major corn-producing states, including 83, 79, 71, and 69 percent in Missouri, Kentucky, Illinois, and Indiana, respectively. Similarly, the soybean crop rated poor to very poor exceeded 50 percent in Missouri, Kansas, Illinois, Indiana, and Kentucky. Unfortunately, drought is expected to develop, persist, or intensify across these areas, and temperatures are likely to average above normal. With dry weather expected in the northern Plains the next few weeks and most locations already abnormally dry, D1 development was added in eastern Montana and North Dakota. Some widely-scattered relief may come in the form of cold front passages or organized thunderstorm clusters (MCSs), but widespread relief for much of the area is not expected. In the Southeast, recent widespread thunderstorm activity has somewhat eased drought there. The 6-10 and 8-14 day outlooks favor above-normal rainfall, August-October is a climatologically wet period in southern Texas, and the 3-month outlook favors increased odds for above normal precipitation along the central Gulf. Therefore, improvement to some improvement is expected across the Deep South, from southern Texas eastward to South Carolina. In New England and the mid-Atlantic, recent scattered thunderstorms have provided relief to some locations from abnormal dryness and moderate drought, but where the rains missed, D0 and D1 have persisted or slightly expanded. With wet weather expected during the next few weeks, some improvement is expected from the eastern Ohio Valley into the Northeast. Across the Southwest, the odds favor an active (wet) southwest monsoon in both the 1- and 3-month precipitation outlooks. As a result, improvement is anticipated across much of Arizona, southern Utah, and southwestern Colorado as the summer monsoon continues, with some improvement in other parts of the region. Drought persistence is the best bet across the remaining portions of the Western U.S. since late summer and early fall are typically dry. In Hawaii, subnormal seasonal rainfall is expected which should maintain drought on the leeward (west) sides while expanding it into the windward (east) sides. Lastly, an El Niño Watch continues, with the forecaster consensus reflecting increased chances of an El Niño beginning in July-September.

Forecaster: D. Miskus

The complete original report is available here at the NOAA website.

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