According to the October 8, 2019, U.S. Drought Monitor, moderate to extreme drought covers 17.9% of the United States including Puerto Rico, an increase from last week’s 17.0%. The worst drought categories (extreme to exceptional drought) increased from 0.8% last week to 1.2% this week.
The week began with a strong upper-level ridge over the East and a trough in the West. Upper-level weather systems ploughed into the high-pressure ridge in the East, weakening it and bringing cooler and wetter weather to parts of the Midwest. Cool fronts penetrated into the Southeast, reaching as far as the Gulf Coast by the end of the week. The troughs and fronts brought cooler-than-average temperatures to the West, central to the northern Plains, and northern New England. However, for the week as a whole, temperatures still averaged well above normal from the southern Plains to the Mid-Atlantic region.
Precipitation was above normal along a couple of the frontal boundaries, from New Mexico to the Great Lakes, and from the Tennessee Valley to New England. The rest of the contiguous United States had a drier-than-normal week. Drought and abnormal dryness contracted along the frontal boundaries in parts of New Mexico, the southern Plains, Tennessee to Ohio Valleys, and Great Lakes to New England. However, drought and abnormal dryness expanded or intensified in the continued dry areas of the Southwest, southern Plains, and Southeast to Mid-Atlantic region. Expansion outweighed contraction again this week, resulting in an increase of the national drought area compared to last week.
Abnormal dryness and drought are currently affecting over 146 million people across the United States including Puerto Rico—about 47.1% 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.