According to the October 31, 2023 U.S. Drought Monitor, moderate to exceptional drought covers 30.7% of the United States including Puerto Rico, a decrease from last week’s 33.4%. The worst drought categories (extreme to exceptional drought) decreased from 7.6% last week to 6.6%.
The atmospheric circulation over the contiguous U.S. during this U.S. Drought Monitor (USDM) week (October 25–31) consisted of an upper-level ridge of high pressure across the eastern third of the contiguous U.S. and an upper-level trough of low pressure over the western two-thirds of the country.
Temperatures averaged warmer than normal for the week beneath the ridge and cooler than normal beneath the trough. A second ridge extended across Alaska, giving most of the state a warmer- and drier-than-normal week. Over the Lower 48, a couple Pacific weather systems were associated with the western trough. Their surface lows and cold fronts brought rain and snow to northern areas extending from the Pacific Northwest to the Northeast.
A slow-moving cold front and surface low generated heavy rain over the southern Plains to the Midwest. Above-normal precipitation contracted drought or abnormal dryness in parts of the Pacific Northwest and northern to central Plains and across much of the southern Plains to the Ohio Valley and Great Lakes, and a wet week in the Caribbean improved drought conditions in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. But another dry week increased precipitation deficits in the Tennessee Valley, Southeast, Mid-Atlantic states, and Hawaii, so drought and abnormal dryness expanded or intensified in these areas.
Nationally, contraction exceeded expansion, so the nationwide moderate to exceptional drought area decreased this week. Abnormal dryness and drought are currently affecting over 147 million people across the United States including Puerto Rico—about 47.5% of the population.
In addition to Drought.gov, you can find further information on the current drought 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. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s World Agriculture Outlook Board also provides information about the drought’s influence on crops and livestock.