According to the May 3, 2022, U.S. Drought Monitor, moderate to exceptional drought covers 45.0% of the United States including Puerto Rico, a decrease from last week’s 45.4%. The worst drought categories (extreme to exceptional drought) decreased from 16.5% last week to 15.5%.
Four potent Pacific weather systems traversed the contiguous United States (CONUS) during this USDM week (April 27-May 3). They moved through a strong westerly jet stream flow, bringing snow to high elevation areas of the Pacific Northwest and northern and central Rockies, as well as the Colorado High Plains. The surface lows and fronts associated with the Pacific systems spread above-normal precipitation across the Pacific Northwest to northern Rockies, much of the central to northern Plains and Upper Mississippi Valley, and parts of the southern Plains. The weather systems also brought severe weather, especially to the central Plains and Midwest. The storm track missed much of the southern and eastern CONUS, where precipitation was below normal for the week. In California and the Southwest, the dry conditions were accompanied by strong winds which exacerbated fire-weather conditions.
Temperatures averaged warmer than normal across the Southwest and southern Plains, as well as parts of the central Plains and Southeast. The storm systems and cool fronts brought a colder-than-normal week to northern tier states. Much of the precipitation fell across drought areas, with drought or abnormal dryness contracting or decreasing in intensity in parts of the Pacific Northwest, Great Plains, Lower Mississippi Valley, and southern Florida. Drought or abnormal dryness expanded or intensified where precipitation deficits increased, especially across parts of the Southwest, southern Plains, Southeast, and Mid-Atlantic states. Contraction exceeded expansion, with the nationwide moderate to exceptional drought area decreasing this week.
Abnormal dryness and drought are currently affecting over 131 million people across the United States including Puerto Rico—about 42.3% 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.