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Published August 22, 2012
U.S. Drought Monitor(data through 8/14/12)
Data Source(s): U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Drought Mitigation Center, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Drought conditions persisted across much of the western U.S. and expanded to the north in the past 30 days during a record hot and dry summer (Figure 3). The area of the western U.S. covered by drought was up slightly from 79 percent in mid-July to 83 percent in mid-August. Nearly 17 percent of the western U.S. is classified with extreme drought, which is defined as a drought that occurs, on average, once in every 20 years. Colorado is experiencing the only exceptional drought in the West. The northern Rockies saw the greatest changes in drought in the last month, with abnormally dry to moderate drought conditions expanding across almost all of Montana. Most other areas observed static drought conditions, except for Colorado, which saw some areas of the state improve while other parts worsened.
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 Dubious, 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