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Published July 25, 2012
U.S. Drought Monitor(data through 7/17/12)
Data Source(s): U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Drought Mitigation Center, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Drought conditions made a push north across much of the western U.S. during the past 30 days, due to unusually dry and warm conditions. Almost 68 percent of the 11 western states (excluding Alaska and Hawaii) are experiencing moderate drought or a more severe category, according to the July 17 update of the U.S. Drought Monitor (Figure 3). This is an increase of about 8 percent reported in mid-June. Nearly 16 percent of the contiguous western U.S. is classified with extreme drought, with largest of those areas located in Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, and Colorado. In the last month, Colorado experienced the most change in drought conditions. Currently, about 70 percent of the state is labeled with extreme drought, an increase from about 26 percent one month ago. Also, moderate drought expanded across southern Oregon, while moderate to severe drought pushed far north from northern Colorado into central Montana.
Drought is not confined to the western U.S. Nearly 60 percent of the U.S. is classified with at least moderate drought. Some of the hardest hit regions have been in the Midwest Corn Belt. As a result, crop forecasts are projecting around a 12 percent decline in yields due to the persistently dry and hot weather, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
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
- Dan Ferguson, CLIMAS Program Director
- Gregg Garfin, Founding Editor, Institute of the Environment
- Zack Guido, CLIMAS Associate Staff Scientist
- Gigi Owen, CLIMAS Assistant Staff Scientist
- Nancy J. Selover, Arizona State Climatologist
- Jessica Swetish, CLIMAS Publications Assistant
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