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Published April 24, 2013
U.S. Drought Monitor(data through 4/16/13)
Data Source(s): U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Drought Mitigation Center, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Several late winter storms moved through the intermountain West over the past month, bringing much-needed snow to high elevation areas. This helped improve short-term drought conditions across parts of Utah, Colorado, and Wyoming, where extreme drought conditions persisted for much of the winter. Currently, moderate or more severe drought covers 64 percent of the 11 western continental states (Figure 3). The total area classified with moderate, severe, and extreme drought has remained relatively constant for 11 consecutive months, although the spatial patterns have changed. In the West, the most severe drought conditions are in New Mexico, Colorado, and Wyoming. Drought conditions expanded and intensified south of the storm track in western California and across parts of Arizona and New Mexico, where precipitation deficits continue to mount from a relatively dry winter. Elsewhere, average to above-average winter precipitation has kept the Northwest and northern Rockies drought-free, while moderate to severe drought generally has lingered in much of the rest of the western U.S. since the fall.
The U.S. Drought Monitor is released weekly (every Thursday) and represents data collected through the previous Tuesday. The inset (lower left) shows the western United States from the previous month’s map.
The U.S. Drought Monitor maps are based on expert assessment of variables including (but not limited to) the Palmer Drought Severity Index, soil moisture, streamflow, precipitation, and measures of vegetation stress, as well as reports of drought impacts. It is a joint effort of several agencies.
The best way to monitor drought trends is to pay a weekly visit to the U.S. Drought Monitor website:
Southwest Climate Outlook Staff
- Michael Crimmins, UA Extension Specialist
- Stephanie Doster, Institute of the Environment Editor
- Gregg Garfin, Founding Editor, Institute of the Environment
- Zack Guido, Managing Editor, CLIMAS Associate Staff Scientist
- Nancy J. Selover, Arizona State Climatologist
- Jessica Dollin, CLIMAS Publications Assistant
- Dave Dubois, New Mexico State Climatologist
Please direct your Southwest Climate Outlook comments and suggestions to Zack Guido.
The CLIMAS Web site contains official and non-official forecasts, as well as other information. While we make every effort to verify this information, please understand that we do not warrant the accuracy of any of these materials.... Read full disclaimer