According to the April 25, 2017, U.S. Drought Monitor, moderate to extreme drought covers 6.1% of the contiguous United States, a decrease from last week’s 8.2%. Areas in extreme drought also decreased from around 0.1% last week to 0.03%. Exceptional drought, the worst category, continued to remain absent from the country for the 14th consecutive week.
This week drought covered the smallest percent of the contiguous United States since the U.S. Drought Monitor was established in 2000. The week also marked the first time since early May 2010 that extreme and exceptional drought were affecting such a small percentage of the Lower 48.
The “big picture” circulation pattern during this U.S. Drought Monitor week consisted of upper-level troughs moving through the jet stream flow. A large closed low developed in a trough and slowly moved across the Southeast to Mid-Atlantic region, dropping heavy amounts of rain across a large area, which greatly reduced drought conditions.
The troughs also dragged other surface lows and cold fronts along with them, bringing above-normal precipitation to many areas in the West, Plains, and East. But, the rains missed parts of the Southwest to Southern Plains, Central Plains to Midwest, and southern Alabama to northern Florida, where precipitation was below normal for the week.
In addition to Drought.gov, you can find further information on the current drought as well as on this week’s Drought Monitor update at the National Drought Mitigation Center. See their recent news releases.
The most recent U.S. Drought Outlook is available from NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center and the U.S. Department of Agriculture provides information about the drought’s influence on crops and livestock.