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Published August 21, 2013
U.S. Drought Monitor(data through August 13, 2013)
Data Source(s): U.S. Department of Agriculture; National Drought Mitigation Center; National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Monsoon season precipitation helped improve short-term drought conditions across parts of the Southwest in the past month, but the rest of the West baked in above-average temperatures and below-average precipitation. Moderate or more extreme drought covers more than 78 percent of the western U.S. , with 56 percent of the area classified with at least severe drought, according to the August 13 update of the U.S. Drought Monitor (Figure 3). New Mexico continues to experience the most extensive extreme and exceptional drought. In the last month, the total area in the West classified with moderate drought changed little. The similar numbers, however, belie substantial spatial changes. Areas experiencing the largest deterioration in drought conditions occurred in eastern Oregon and western Idaho, where extreme drought replaced severe drought. Conditions also worsened in parts of Southern California due to the recent dry spell and above-average temperatures. In these parts of the West, the risk of wildfires remains high and several fires recently have grown and burned more than 100,000 acres. On the other hand, there was a 3 percent decrease in the area marked by exceptional drought; New Mexico and Colorado experienced the largest improvements in this category.
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 weekly U.S. Drought Monitor:
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