According to the August 23, 2022, U.S. Drought Monitor, moderate to exceptional drought covers 39.3% of the United States including Puerto Rico, a decrease from last week’s 41.2%. The worst drought categories (extreme to exceptional drought) decreased from 14.5% last week to 12.3%.
The upper-level circulation pattern across the contiguous United States was a classic ridge/trough pattern. A high pressure ridge over western North America kept the West and northern Plains warmer than normal with the Pacific Northwest to northern and central Plains drier than normal.
A low pressure trough over the eastern contiguous United States funneled cold fronts and surface low pressure systems into the Midwest and Deep South where temperatures averaged cooler than normal for the week and precipitation was above normal across large areas.
A stalled frontal system draped across the southern Plains to Southeast was a focal point for persistent showers and thunderstorms that were fueled by Gulf of Mexico moisture. The heavy torrential rains helped alleviate drought conditions in Texas to the Lower Mississippi Valley, but they also resulted in widespread flooding. Meanwhile, the summer monsoon continued across the Southwest, giving the Four Corners states a wetter- and cooler-than-normal week. Parts of the Ohio Valley to Northeast were wetter than normal, while other parts were drier than normal.
Drought and abnormal dryness contracted where it rained, especially in the Southwest to southern Plains, along the Mississippi Valley, and in the Southeast, as well as Puerto Rico. But expansion or intensification of drought and abnormal dryness occurred in parts of the northern Rockies, northern Plains, Northeast, and Florida. Nationally, contraction far exceeded expansion, with the nationwide moderate to exceptional drought area decreasing this week.
Abnormal dryness and drought are currently affecting over 172 million people across the United States including Puerto Rico—about 55.3% 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.
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.