According to the October 27, 2020, U.S. Drought Monitor, moderate to exceptional drought covers 38.8% of the United States including Puerto Rico, a decrease from last week’s 39.5%. The worst drought categories (extreme to exceptional drought) decreased slightlyfrom 15.2% last week to 15.1% this week.
The week began with the storm track across the northern states and high pressure along the east, west, and Gulf of Mexico coasts. As the week progressed, a strong low-pressure system developed across the West and plunged southward, ending the week deep over the Southwest. A front across the Midwest wiggled north then roared south into the Gulf of Mexico as cold Canadian air was forced southward behind it across the Plains by the upper-level low-pressure system.
The upper-level and surface lows and front brought precipitation to many areas. Reinforced by the freezing air, the precipitation took the form of snow over the Rockies, Plains, and Upper Midwest, while rain was the rule across parts of the Ohio Valley and Southeast where the air was above freezing. The precipitation amounts were above-normal for the week and helped lessen drought conditions in these areas.
Most of the West outside of the Rockies, most of the Northeast, much of the central and southern Plains, and parts of the Southeast were drier than normal this week. Drought and abnormal dryness expanded in the dry areas of the southern and northern Plains and parts of the Northeast and Southeast. For the week, temperatures averaged colder than normal across the Plains and into the Great Lakes and much of the West, while weekly temperatures were warmer than normal across the eastern third of the contiguous United States and near to above normal in California and Arizona. Drought expansion was less than contraction, so the overall U.S. drought footprint decreased for a change this week.
Abnormal dryness and drought are currently affecting over 117million people across the United States including Puerto Rico—about 37.8% 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.