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Seasonal Drought Outlook | CLIMAS

 SW Climate Outlook

Seasonal Drought Outlook

Data through December 2013. Data Source: NOAA-Climate Prediction Center (CPC)

This summary is partially excerpted and edited from the August 15 Seasonal Drought Outlook technical discussion produced by the NOAA-Climate Prediction Center (CPC) and written by forecaster A. Artusa.

An active monsoon brought rain to the Southwest, substantially improving drought conditions since June 15. The last month was particularly wet for some of the Southwest, where rainfall exceeded 3 inches across parts of New Mexico, northwestern and central Arizona, north-central Colorado, and southern Utah. Some locations within these areas received more than 8 inches. Despite drought improvements, much of the region is still covered in at least moderate drought, and the CPC expects these conditions to remain in these areas over the next three months (Figure 11). This forecast is based in part on the CPC six- to 10-day and eight- to 14-day outlooks, which favor near- to below-median rainfall across most of the Southwest. Also, the CPC 30-day precipitation outlook for October shows equal chances that precipitation will be above, below, or near average over most of the Southwest; the three-month seasonal outlook covering the October–December period also calls for equal chances of above-, below-, or near-average precipitation. While the CPC assigns a moderate to high confidence in this forecast, incursions of moisture from a tropical storm originating in the eastern Pacific Ocean could help further improve drought conditions.

Elsewhere, the Midwest has experienced a return of drought conditions similar to the drought that rapidly developed last summer and decimated crops. Excessive heat and scant precipitation contributed to the recent onset of drought conditions, and precipitation deficits are around 2 to 5 inches in some areas. The precipitation forecast through December calls for equal chances of above, below, and near-average conditions, leading to the expectation that drought will persist.


The delineated areas in the Seasonal Drought Outlook are defined subjectively and are based on expert assessment of numerous indicators, including the official precipitation outlooks, various medium- and short-range forecasts, models such as the 6-10-day and 8-14-day forecasts,  soil moisture tools, and climatology.