According to the October 5, 2021, U.S. Drought Monitor, moderate to exceptional drought covers 39.7% of the United States including Puerto Rico, a decrease from last week’s 40.1%. The percent area in the worst drought categories (extreme to exceptional drought) is the same as last week: 19.3%.
The circulation pattern consisted of strong upper-level ridging over the central to eastern contiguous U.S. that was complicated by cutoff lows slowly moving across southern tier states. Pacific fronts and surface low pressure systems swept across the Pacific Northwest but then stalled out as they moved into the ridge over the central contiguous United States.
The ridge contributed to warmer-than-normal temperatures from the Plains to Southeast, with much above-normal temperatures from the northern Plains to Midwest. Below-normal weekly temperatures dominated the Southwest. Weekly precipitation was above-normal in the Southwest and southern Plains and parts of the central to northern Plains, Ohio and Tennessee Valleys, Northeast, and interior Southeast.
The week was drier than normal across the rest of the West, coastal Southeast to Mid-Atlantic states, and parts of the western Great Lakes and northern New England. Drought and abnormal dryness expanded or intensified in a few parts of the West, Midwest, Plains, and North Carolina. Drought or abnormal dryness contracted in parts of the Southwest and other parts of the Plains and Midwest. Overall, contraction exceeded expansion, with the nationwide moderate to exceptional drought area decreasing this week.
Abnormal dryness and drought are currently affecting over 120 million people across the United States including Puerto Rico—about 38.7% of the population.
In addition to Drought.gov, find further information on the current drought as well as on this week’s Drought Monitor update at the National Drought Mitigation Center.
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.