According to the May 5, 2020, U.S. Drought Monitor, moderate to extreme drought covers 13.4% of the United States including Puerto Rico, an increase from last week’s 12.3%. The worst drought categories (extreme to exceptional drought) increased from last week’s 0.4% to 0.8% this week.
The upper-level circulation shifted to a more zonal flow with Pacific weather systems rapidly traversing across the contiguous United States. One system intensified over the eastern contiguous United States early in the week, spreading above-normal precipitation across the East Coast. Other weather systems and fronts dropped above-normal precipitation over parts of the Pacific Northwest, Plains, Great Lakes, and Gulf of Mexico coast. But much of the West, Mid to Upper Mississippi Valley, and Deep South were drier than normal as an upper-level ridge built up over the western two-thirds of the contiguous United States.
In addition to drier-than-normal weather, the ridge brought warmer-than-normal temperatures to most of the West and Great Plains. Drought and abnormal dryness contracted across parts of the Gulf Coast and Plains, but expanded or intensified across much of the West to central and northern Plains. Expansion outweighed contraction, so the national drought footprint grew to 13.4 percent of the United States.
Abnormal dryness and drought are currently affecting over 57 million people across the United States and Puerto Rico—about 18.5% of the country’s 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. 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.