According to the May 9, 2017, U.S. Drought Monitor, moderate to extreme drought covers 5.2% of the contiguous United States, a slight increase from last week’s 5.0%. Areas in extreme drought also increased slightly from around 0.1% last week to 0.3%. Exceptional drought, the worst category, continued to remain absent from the country for the 16th consecutive week.
The upper-level circulation during this U.S. Drought Monitor week consisted of a sharp ridge in between several strong closed lows in what is called a “highly meridional flow.” The closed lows pumped Gulf of Mexico moisture into the eastern contiguous United States, resulting in precipitation that was mostly above normal. The persistent ridging across the West and Northern Plains kept temperatures warmer than normal and precipitation mostly below normal. As a result, drought or abnormal dryness expanded in parts of the Southwest and Plains but contracted further in parts of the East.
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.