According to theNovember 24, 2020, U.S. Drought Monitor, moderate to exceptional drought covers 40.7% of the United States including Puerto Rico, an increase from last week’s 39.6%. The worst drought categories (extreme to exceptional drought) increasedfrom 15.7% last week to 17.0% this week.
The jet stream flow was mostly zonal with several embedded Pacific weather systems, also known as shortwave troughs. The troughs brought Pacific cold fronts with them that dropped precipitation in some areas as they traversed the country. These areas included northern California and the Pacific Northwest, parts of the Rockies, the central Plains to Ohio Valley, and the Northeast. But precipitation amounts were above normal in only a few areas, including the Sierra Nevada and parts of the Pacific Northwest, a couple strips from the central Plains to Ohio Valley, and a narrow strip in New England. The rest of the contiguous United States received little to no precipitation.
Temperatures were warmer than normal across most of the country, especially from the Southwest to northern Plains, and near to cooler than normal in parts of the Pacific Northwest and along the East Coast. Drought or abnormally dry conditions improved in a few areas in the Northwest, Midwest, and New England. However, continued dryness expanded or intensified drought or abnormally dry conditions across much of the Southwest to southern and central Plains, Southeast, and parts of the Midwest. Drought expansion was more than contraction, so the overall U.S. drought footprint increased this week.
Abnormal dryness and drought are currently affecting over 139 million people across the United States including Puerto Rico—about 44.9% 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.