According to the March 22, 2022, U.S. Drought Monitor, moderate to exceptional drought covers 48.8% of the United States including Puerto Rico, a decrease from last week’s 51.1%. The worst drought categories (extreme to exceptional drought) decreased from 14.2% last week to 13.8%.
A series of weather systems moved across the contiguous United States. An upper-level ridge weakened them as they moved across the West, so much of the western U.S. was drier than normal for the week. They were re-energized as they crossed into the Plains, with severe weather developing, especially in Texas. The fronts and surface low pressure systems, that were associated with the weather systems, tapped Gulf of Mexico moisture to spread above-normal precipitation across the central Plains to Lower Great Lakes, and from eastern Texas to the Carolinas and Florida. But western and southern Texas, the northern Plains, and much of the Tennessee Valley to New England had a drier-than-normal week.
A southerly flow and upper-level ridging east of the weather systems gave much of the contiguous U.S. east of the Rockies a warmer-than-normal week. But cloudiness and rain associated with the systems resulted in near to cooler-than-normal weekly temperatures across a large part of the West and parts of the Gulf Coast states. Drought or abnormal dryness contracted in parts of the Pacific Northwest, Great Plains, and Gulf Coast states to the Carolinas where precipitation was above normal.
Drought or abnormal dryness expanded or intensified across other parts of the West and parts of the northern Plains, Texas, and Mid-Atlantic to Northeast coast. Contraction exceeded expansion, with the nationwide moderate to exceptional drought area decreasing this week.
Abnormal dryness and drought are currently affecting over 176 million people across the United States including Puerto Rico—about 56.6% of the population.
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.
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.