According to the March 28, 2017, U.S. Drought Monitor, moderate to extreme drought covers 14.2% of the contiguous United States, a decrease from last week’s 16.0%. Areas in extreme drought also decreased from 0.4% last week to 0.2%. No areas were in exceptional drought, the worst category.
A long-wave ridge pattern at the upper levels of the atmosphere kept most of the contiguous United States warmer than normal during this U.S. Drought Monitor week. Upper-level low pressure systems moved through this ridge pattern, bringing precipitation to regions that would otherwise have been dry underneath the ridge.
The lows and their Pacific moisture gave much of the West above-normal precipitation. Then, the lows re-intensified and drew in Gulf of Mexico moisture after they crossed the Rockies, dropping above-normal precipitation as they tracked across the central Plains to Upper Midwest. By the Tuesday morning cutoff time of this U.S. Drought Monitor week, precipitation was below normal across parts of the Northern and Southern Plains and from the coastal Southeast to most of New England.
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’s World Agriculture Outlook Board provides information about the drought’s influence on crops and livestock.