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Published October 24, 2012
U.S. Drought Monitor(data through 10/16/12)
Data Source(s): U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Drought Mitigation Center, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Most of the western U.S. is suffering under drought conditions, according to the October 16 update of the U.S. Drought Monitor (Figure 3). More than 76 percent of the 11 continental western states are experiencing moderate or more severe drought conditions, almost identical to last month. Parts of Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, and Colorado continue to endure the most intense drought conditions due to increasing precipitation deficits over the past several months. Very small and isolated improvements have occurred in the last month in southern Nevada where conditions improved from moderate drought to abnormally dry due to above-average precipitation in late September. The Pacific Northwest is the only region generally void of drought conditions, the result of copious precipitation that fell last winter. However, compared to one year ago, the severity and geographic extent of drought has substantially increased in most of the West. On October 18, 2011, for example, 18 percent of the continental western states was classified as having at least moderate drought and only about 13 percent was pegged with severe or extreme drought; these conditions were almost entirely confined to Arizona and New Mexico. Currently, about 41 percent of the West is covered in severe and extreme conditions. The dry winter and hot summer played a leading role in expanding and intensifying drought across the West.
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