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Published March 21, 2012
U.S. Drought Monitor(data through 3/13/12)
Data Source(s): U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Drought Mitigation Center, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Much of the western U.S. received below-average precipitation during the past 30 days, causing drought conditions to expand and intensify across many regions, according to the March 13 update of the U.S. Drought Monitor (Figure 3). Parts of the Pacific Northwest and northern Rockies experienced wet conditions where a few late winter storms delivered heavy snow to the mountains and copious rains elsewhere. Precipitation in these areas was 150–200 percent above average and helped maintain drought-free conditions. The biggest downgrades in short-term drought conditions occurred across Arizona, Nevada, and central California, where dry conditions prevailed from late December to mid-March. Drought has intensified from moderate to severe in many parts of these states. Upcoming months offer few opportunities for precipitation as the spring season is normally dry.
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