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U.S. Drought Monitor Update for May 25, 2021

Picture of Tucson, Arizona
Courtesy of

According to the May 25, 2021, U.S. Drought Monitor, moderate to exceptional drought covers 36.3% of the United States including Puerto Rico, a decreasefrom last week’s 37.0%. The worst drought categories (extreme to exceptional drought) decreasedfrom 18.3% last week to 17.8%. 

A strong meridional wave pattern became entrenched in the atmospheric circulation Over the contiguous United States, the wave pattern consisted of an upper-level trough over the West and ridge over the East. But the pattern extended over the oceans with a ridge over the eastern Pacific and a trough over the Atlantic off the East Coast. Pacific weather systems moving through this wave pattern tracked along the North American coast, then plunged southward into the western contiguous United States where they stayed for a few days, blocked by the eastern ridge. Eventually they rotated northeastward into central Canada.  

Surface fronts and lows moved eastward as far as the Plains, then stalled out. This resulted in areas of above-normal precipitation across the West and Plains into the Upper Mississippi Valley, while most of the country east of the Mississippi River was dry. Weekly temperatures were cooler than normal beneath the trough in the West, warmer than normal from the northern Plains to Northeast, and near to cooler than normal along the Gulf of Mexico Coast.    

Drought or abnormal dryness contracted where welcome rain fell across parts of the Rockies to Plains. But drought or abnormal dryness expanded or intensified across other parts of the West and northern Plains in areas missed by the rain, and especially in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast states and Florida beneath the ridge. Contraction exceeded expansion, so the nationwide moderate to exceptional drought area shrank this week.

Abnormal dryness and drought are currently affecting over 175  million people across the United States including Puerto Rico—about 56.4% of the population.


Map of U.S. drought conditions for May 25, 2021

The full U.S. Drought Monitor weekly update is available from

In addition to, 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.

For additional drought information, follow #DroughtMonitor on Facebook and Twitter.

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