Droughtscape Title
Winter 2008

Winter 2008 U.S. Drought Outlook and October to December Summary

By Brian Fuchs, Climatologist, National Drought Mitigation Center

Drought classifications are based on the U.S. Drought Monitor. For a detailed explanation, please visit http://drought.unl.edu/dm/classify.htm The outlook integrates existing conditions with forecasts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center: http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/

The CPC’s Seasonal Drought Outlook is updated twice a month at

Season Drought OutlookOutlook: With La Niña here and forecast to stay through the end of winter, drought is likely to intensify in some areas, such as Florida and the Gulf Coast, and to ease up in other areas, such as the Mid-Atlantic states. In the Southeast, the current pocket of severe and exceptional drought will continue. This dryness, part of the La Niña pattern, should expand south into Florida and west along the Gulf Coast. The northern edge of the drought in the Southeast is expected to recede in the Mid-Atlantic region, but how far south this improvement spreads is yet to be determined. The current dryness in the southern Plains and New Mexico will intensify over the next several months, and drought in the northern Plains will persist through the winter. Vast improvements will continue over the central and northern Rocky Mountains, and drought will ease up in southern California and Arizona. Through the winter, temperatures over the southern tier of the United States will be well above normal, and temperatures over the northern portions of the country will be cooler than normal. Precipitation should be below normal through the Plains, Southwest, and Gulf Coast, and above normal through the Pacific Northwest and Midwestern states.

Drought Monitor October 2, 2007October:
During October, drought loosened its grip across the United States. At the beginning of October, 59.3 percent of the United States was experiencing abnormally dry or drought onditions, compared to 50.1 percent at the end of the month. Improvements came to the Southeast, Mid-Atlantic, northern Plains and Pacific Northwest. Above-normal precipitation was recorded over much of the upper Midwest, Ohio River Valley, Pacific Northwest, and Gulf Coast, where some stations recorded over 300 percent of normal precipitation for the month. Temperatures were above normal for most of the United States in October except for the West. Temperatures were as much as 8 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit above normal over much of New England and Great Lakes regions.

Drought Monitor November 6, 2007November:
Drought expanded and intensified in November due to widespread dryness. Abnormally dry and drought status increased from 50.1 percent to 56.2 percent during the month. Much of this increase was in the D1 category, with several new areas of D1 introduced in November. Intensification of drought in the Southeast was widespread, especially through the Carolinas. Areas of the Texas panhandle, New Mexico and Oklahoma continued to show short-term dryness, resulting in expansion and intensification of drought. Much of the Plains received less than 10 percent of normal precipitation. Most locations in the West and Southeast received 25 percent or less of their normal precipitation for the month. New England and small pockets of
the Southwest received above-normal precipitation. As in October, much of the United States observed temperatures that were 2 to 4 degrees Fahrenheit above normal for the month. The exception to this was along the east coast and in the Pacific Northwest.

Drought Monitor December 4, 2007December: December was a wet month for much of the Southwest, Great Plains, and upper Midwest. Above normal precipitation in these regions reduced drought. Good rains through portions of the Southeast at the end of December also brought welcome relief from the ongoing drought, extending into the Mid-Atlantic. With some locations in Georgia and the Carolinas recording up to 5 inches of rain, a categorical improvement to the drought status was made for much of the region. The recent rains helped short-term conditions, but with precipitation deficits of 20-plus inches common throughout the Southeast for the year, the long-term drought is far from over. In the Southwest, above normal precipitation and snow reduced drought from southern California northeast through the four corners and into Colorado. D3 was eliminated from all of Arizona and southern California and D0/D1 and D2 conditions were improved in Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and into the Texas panhandle. December ended with 54.6 percent of the United States experiencing abnormally dry or drought conditions compared to 56.2 percent at the beginning of December and 50.0 percent a year ago. Montana and North Dakota as well as central and south Texas continued to be dry in December. Long-term hydrological problems are persisting in central Florida. Extreme drought around Lake Okeechobee led to continuing water supply problems in the region.

© 2008 National Drought Mitigation Center


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