According to the November 12, 2019, U.S. Drought Monitor, moderate to extreme drought covers 12.9% of the United States including Puerto Rico, a decrease from last week’s 13.8%. The worst drought categories (extreme to exceptional drought) decreased to less than 0.1%.
A strong upper-level ridge of high pressure remained entrenched across Alaska and western North America, with an upper-level trough over eastern North America. The ridge kept temperatures warmer than normal across Alaska and the western contiguous United States. The trough funneled a series of cold fronts across the eastern contiguous United States, bringing frigid temperatures to the Plains and Midwest and all the way to the Gulf of Mexico and East Coasts. The ridge kept the western continental United States dry, while the arctic air masses over the east started out mostly dry.
Gulf of Mexico moisture filtered in ahead of the fronts, resulting in above-normal precipitation across parts of the northern High Plains, parts of the southern Plains to Ohio Valley, and parts of the Southeast. Despite the frontal precipitation, large parts of the continental United States east of the Rockies still had a drier-than-normal week. The frontal precipitation helped contract drought and abnormal dryness across parts of the Plains to Southeast and Midwest, but drought and abnormal dryness expanded in parts of the Southwest to central Plains and in southern Florida. Drought contraction outweighed expansion this week, resulting in a decrease of the national drought area compared to last week.
Abnormal dryness and drought are currently affecting over 95 million people across the United States including Puerto Rico—about 30.8% 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. 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.