NOAA Monthly Drought Outlook – December

During the past month, widespread above normal rainfall and below normal temperatures across much of the eastern CONUS helped to improve or remove short-term drought over this region. Drought conditions persisted across parts of the Four Corners states following a lackluster Monsoon, although beneficial precipitation arrived during late November. Short-term drought continues to plague the central and southern Great Plains.

Early in December, widespread precipitation is forecast across the mid-Atlantic and Northeast which is likely to remain drought-free. For the Southeast, one class drought improvement or drought removal for South Carolina and northern Georgia is anticipated due to forecast above normal precipitation during early to mid-December and a favorable time for soil moisture recharge.

Drought conditions in southern Georgia and the Florida Panhandle are likely to persist and drought development is anticipated in the currently abnormally dry areas in the southern Florida Peninsula due to forecast below normal precipitation and above normal temperatures for December.

Based on a drier climatology, and precipitation and temperature outlooks for the next month, drought persistence is more likely across the central and southern Great Plains, while the monthly precipitation outlook supports drought development in parts of Texas. Recent widespread precipitation over the southwestern CONUS, a favorable time of year for soil moisture recharge, and a continuation of a wet pattern through at least early December support drought improvement and removal across much of the Southwest.

United States Monthly Drought Outlook Graphic - click on image to enlarge

Click Image to Enlarge

Based on forecast widespread above normal precipitation for the next two weeks, a wet climatology, early season snowpack, and reservoir conditions, drought development is not anticipated in California through the end of December. A wet climatology and forecast precipitation favor drought improvement or removal across the Alaska Panhandle and Hawaii.

Forecast confidence is moderate for the Southeast Region.

  • During past 30 days, widespread rainfall exceeded 1 to 8 inches across much of the eastern CONUS and drought conditions were greatly improved over this region.
  • Based on precipitation forecasts from the short-term up to a month, and also a favorable time of year for soil moisture recharge, drought improvement and removal are likely across South Carolina, northern Georgia and central Alabama.
  • Due to predicted below normal rainfall and above normal temperatures in December, drought persistence is favored for Southern Georgia and the Florida Panhandle and drought development is favored for currently abnormally dry areas in the southern Florida Peninsula.

Forecast confidence is moderate for the Southern Region.

  • During the past 30 days, above normal precipitation improved short-term drought conditions over northwest Texas.
  • During December, a drier climatology along with increased chances of below normal precipitation and above normal temperatures favor persistence or redevelopment of drought across parts of Texas.

Forecast confidence is high for the Midwest Region.

  • Increased precipitation and decreased temperatures in November wiped out widespread short-term drought that developed across the Midwest during late Summer and early Fall.
  • December typically presents a good opportunity for soil moisture recharge across eastern parts of the region, with vegetation entering dormancy, decreasing sun angles and temperatures.
  • The forecast cold fronts crossing the region during December and the updated all range precipitation forecasts favor above normal precipitation.
  • Based on these factors, the Midwest region is favored to remain drought free by the end of the month.

Forecast confidence is high for the Western and High Plains Regions.

  • A lack of summer monsoon rainfall resulted in drought development across the Four Corners region.
  • Ongoing precipitation along with increased chances for above normal precipitation through the end of December support improvement or removal of drought across much of the Four Corner Region, except the southern High Plains where persistence of drought conditions is likely due to the lack of precipitation forecast through December. Soil moisture remains abundant to excessive across the Northern Plains.
  • The Pacific Northwest is currently drought free, with snowpack conditions across the Cascades and northern Sierra Nevadas, as well as California reservoir levels, in good shape for this time of year.
  • The short-term forecasts and updated CPC December outlooks favor above normal precipitation across much of the western CONUS. Therefore, no additional development is anticipated as temperatures decrease and the wet season begins ramping up across the Pacific coast.

Forecast confidence is high for the Northeast Region.

  • The Northeast region is drought-free currently. Given the reduced temperatures and generally wet climatology, drought development is not anticipated.

Forecast confidence is moderate for Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico.

  • Drought free is back for mainland of Alaska and drought conditions are improved across the Alaska Panhandle.
  • The updated CPC extended range forecasts favor increased chances for above normal precipitation across southern Alaska and a wet climatology for the Panhandle, so improvement or removal of the small remaining drought area over the Panhandle is anticipated.
  • For Hawaii, dynamical model forecasts generally favor above normal precipitation across the islands with the coming wet season. Therefore, further drought improvements are anticipated for Hawaii.
  • As of the latest U.S. Drought Monitor, Puerto Rico is now drought free, and drought redevelopment is not anticipated during December.

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