According to the September 27, 2022, U.S. Drought Monitor, moderate to exceptional drought covers 42.7% of the United States including Puerto Rico, an increase from last week’s 41.0%. The worst drought categories (extreme to exceptional drought) increased from 9.8% last week to 10.5%.
The upper-level circulation across the contiguous U.S. (CONUS) during this U.S. Drought Monitor (USDM) week (September 21-27) consisted of the interaction between a high pressure ridge and a couple low pressure troughs. The week began with the ridge centered over the Deep South and flanked by two upper-level lows -- one over New England and another just off the California coast. As the week progressed, the lows migrated east while the ridge slid westward to take up residence over the Rocky Mountain chain. Hot and dry weather accompanied the ridge. Cooler-than-normal air was associated with the lows and troughs, which also created a storm track that was limited primarily to the northern states. The pattern was complicated by two tropical systems as well as summer monsoon showers over the Southwest.
The first tropical system was Hurricane Fiona, whose powerful remnant low moved across the Canadian Maritime Provinces, spreading rain over New England at the beginning of the week. The second tropical system was Hurricane Ian. Hurricane Ian brought rain and destructive winds to southern Florida as it bore down on the state just as the week ended. Monsoon showers brought above-normal precipitation to the Southwest in these waning days of summer.
The week was also wetter than normal across areas from northern California to the northern Rockies, across parts of the northern and central Plains, over southern Florida, and from the Great Lakes to Northeast. The rest of the CONUS had a drier than normal week, thanks to the upper-level ridge as well as a dry northwesterly flow out of Canada. Temperatures for the week averaged warmer than normal over the southern Plains to Lower Mississippi Valley and across parts of the Southwest and Northwest. The week ended up cooler than normal from the northern Plains to Northeast and into parts of the Southeast. The hot temperatures and continued dry conditions, especially in the South, further dried soils.
Drought and abnormal dryness contracted where it rained in the Southwest, Northeast, and southern Florida. Drought and abnormal dryness expanded where it didn’t rain, including the Northwest, Great Plains to Mississippi Valley, and Mid-Atlantic states. Nationally, expansion exceeded contraction, with the nationwide moderate to exceptional drought area increasing this week.
Abnormal dryness and drought are currently affecting over 195 million people across the United States including Puerto Rico—about 62.9% 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.