NOAA Drought Outlook Seasonal – March, April, May

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Drought will likely persist in the Pacific Northwest, with additional drought expected to develop in Oregon and eastern Washington in association with below-normal precipitation favored during the March-April-May (MAM) period. Drought development is also becoming more likely across much of California due to a drier than normal wet season heading into to the upcoming climatological dry season.

The long-term drought in the Four Corners region will likely persist as warmer and drier conditions are forecast for much of the Southwest. Some southward expansion of drought into Arizona and New Mexico is also favored.

Much of the eastern two-thirds of the CONUS has seen above-normal precipitation in recent months due to a progressive jet stream pattern and active storm track. As such, the northern High Plains, Midwest, Northeast, and much of the Southeast will likely remain drought free.

Drought conditions have improved in recent weeks in central Texas (Southern region) due to rainfall in excess of 6 inches in central portions of the state. However, drought is favored to continue for portions of Southern Texas south of the I-10 corridor extending from the Rio Grande Valley to inland areas of the Gulf Coast. Additional development may occur in western portions of the Southern region in association with above-normal temperatures coupled with below-normal precipitation favored for the period.

In the Southeast, drought removal (D1 areas) and improvement (D2 areas) is favored for the Florida Panhandle, with above-normal precipitation favored across all short-range and long-range forecasts.

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

Click Image to Enlarge

Recent positive precipitation anomalies and continued above-normal precipitation favored over all of Alaska in the short-term favors no drought development for the period. Drought improvement or removal is likely in Hawaii, with enhanced probabilities for above-normal precipitation during the period. Although conditions are drier than normal in northwestern Puerto Rico, drought development is not favored due to weak precipitation signals.

Forecast confidence is low for Texas, and moderate elsewhere for the South Region.

  • Heavy rainfall in central and eastern Texas in recent days (in excess of 6 inches locally) has removed much of the deficit across central portions of the state.
  • With above-normal precipitation expected over the next couple of weeks in association with the potential for lee-side cyclogenesis and trailing frontal boundaries, short-term improvement and removal are favored for areas north of the I-10 corridor between Houston and San Antonio.
  • Meanwhile, drought conditions are favored to persist south of the I-10 corridor, extending from interior areas of the Gulf Coast westward to the Rio Grande Valley. Some drought development is favored in western Texas due to consistent dry signals in the models.
  • Drought removal is favored in southwestern Oklahoma, as the severe weather season climatologically begins during the latter half of the period, and drylines tend to set up near this region.

Forecast confidence is moderate for the Florida Panhandle, and high elsewhere for the Southeast Region.

  • Long-term drought over the Florida Panhandle (near Tallahassee) in the Southeast Region continues (365-day deficits of ~20 inches in localized areas), but is favored to improve for locations with long-term deficits, and to dissipate for those in short-term drought, with above-normal precipitation favored for all forecast periods. In addition, drier than normal conditions over the Big Bend and portions of the peninsula are expected to also improve, with no additional drought development likely.
  • The rest of the region is expected to remain wetter than normal.

Forecast confidence is high for the Midwest Region.

  • Much of the Midwest region is seeing 1-2 inch positive precipitation anomalies for the past 90 days, with pockets of 4-inch positive anomalies near the Great Lakes. A larger area of greater than 4-inch positive anomalies in southern portions of the region stretches from Missouri eastward to the Ohio Valley.
  • Although below-normal precipitation is favored in the first month of the MAM period, above-normal precipitation is favored for much of the region later in the period, with the highest probabilities centered over the Ohio River Valley.
  • Based on these wet antecedent conditions and the wet Spring outlook, no drought development is anticipated. In fact, these are some of the same areas that had a late start to the 2019 growing season due to excessive rainfall, so agricultural impacts from potential excessive rainfall will need to be monitored closely.

Forecast confidence is moderate for the Four Corners region, and high elsewhere for the High Plains Region.

  • Drought persistence is likely in the southwestern High Plains Region (near the Four Corners region) due to the lack of a clear wet signal during the MAM period.
  • Drought removal is likely for central Kansas over the next couple of weeks in association with enhanced probabilities of above-normal precipitation over this region through the Week 2 period, with equal chances favored for MAM.
  • In addition, severe weather may start to play a role in the April to May timeframe, which further supports removal there. No drought development is expected.

Forecast confidence is low for the Pacific Northwest, and moderate for the Southwest (West Region).

  • Drier than normal conditions persist across much of the Western Region. Below-normal precipitation is favored in the Pacific Northwest in the ERF, Weeks 3-4, and March precipitation outlooks, with equal chances to below-normal favored for the MAM season.
  • Precipitation over California is favored to be below-normal through MAM. As such, drought persistence is expected in central Washington, north-central Oregon, and central California. Drought expansion is expected across central and northern California, Oregon, and eastern Washington.
  • Snowpack in the Cascades is slightly above normal, so no development is expected along the eastern slopes in Washington.
  • Drought development in California is supported by an increasing potential for a dry end to their climatological wet season. Drought Persistence in Idaho is status quo for now also, as long-range outlooks for this region favor near-normal precipitation.
  • The long-term drought over the Four Corners region is expected to persist, with slight southward expansion likely due to drier than normal conditions over the past 30-60 days over Arizona and northern parts of New Mexico. However, wet antecedent conditions in southwestern New Mexico over the last 30 days make it more unlikely for any further southward expansion into the state.

Forecast confidence is high for the Northeast Region.

  • The Northeast region as a whole remains near normal for observed year-to-date precipitation. Weak negative anomalies have crept into coastal areas of New England, but have not been significant enough to warrant any development yet.
  • In addition, weakly positive probabilities for above-normal precipitation are favored for MAM. As such, no drought development is expected for the Northeast during the MAM period.

Forecast confidence is moderate for Alaska.

  • Drought in the Alaska Panhandle has dissipated over the past 30 days due to an active storm track across the state. Above-normal precipitation is favored over the panhandle over the next 2 weeks, with weak probabilities for below-normal precipitation favored for the MAM period.
  • However, dry precipitation signals in the models have weakened a bit in recent days over the panhandle. In addition, above-normal precipitation is favored for much of Mainland Alaska through the period. No drought development likely for the state.

Forecast confidence is high for Hawaii.

  • Drought improvement or removal is likely in Hawaii. Models favor moderate probabilities for above-normal precipitation during the period. No drought development is expected.

Forecast confidence is moderate for Puerto Rico.

  • A small area of northwestern Puerto Rico remains drier than normal, with 30-day rainfall deficits of 1-3 inches, despite the rest of the island being anywhere from near normal to 5 inches above normal. Models are showing weak precipitation signals for this region. For now, no development is expected.



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