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U.S. Drought: Weekly Report for November 21, 2023

Dry desert landscape in North Dakota with wild turkeys milling around.
Courtesy of

According to the November 21, 2023 U.S. Drought Monitor, moderate to exceptional drought covers 31.4% of the United States including Puerto Rico, a slight decrease from last week’s 31.5%. The worst drought categories (extreme to exceptional drought) decreased from 7.5% last week to 7.3%.

An upper-level ridge of high pressure brought warmer-than-normal temperatures to most of the contiguous U.S. during this U.S. Drought Monitor week (November 15–21). The atmospheric circulation was complicated by Pacific weather systems that pushed through the ridge as they moved eastward in the jet stream flow, and by a non-tropical storm system that grazed the Florida peninsula. The ridge generally inhibited precipitation outside of the areas affected by the weather systems. A couple of fronts during the first part of the week brought above-normal precipitation to parts of the Rockies, Plains, Ohio Valley, and Florida, while a potent cold front and low-pressure system near the end of the week spread above-normal precipitation across much of the West and Lower Mississippi Valley.

Beneficial rain targeted some drought areas, so drought or abnormal dryness contracted or was reduced in intensity in parts of the Pacific Northwest, southern Plains, and Gulf of Mexico coast. But another dry week prompted expansion or intensification of drought and abnormal dryness in parts of the Southwest and Midwest that were missed by the rains, as well as in the Southeast to Mid-Atlantic Coast. Nationally, contraction was slightly more than expansion, so the nationwide moderate to exceptional drought area changed very little this week.

Abnormal dryness and drought are currently affecting over 166 million people across the United States including Puerto Rico—about 53.4% of the population.

U.S. Drought Monitor map for November 21, 2023.

The full U.S. Drought Monitor weekly update is available from

In addition to, 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.

For additional drought information, follow #DroughtMonitor on Facebook and Twitter.