NOAA Seasonal Drought Outlook – July, Aug., Sept.

Photo: L. Brian Stauffer, University of Illinois

Hot, dry weather continued to exacerbate drought conditions across the West, where close to 90 percent of the Western Climate Region is currently experiencing drought conditions, and more than 50 percent of the region is experiencing severe to exceptional drought. Abnormally warm conditions also promoted drought expansion across the northern Plains and parts of the upper Midwest in the last 30 days.

In contrast, copious rainfall and below average temperatures eased drought conditions across much of Texas and parts of the Southern Plains. Additionally, pockets of drought have persisted in southern Florida, the mid-Atlantic, and Carolinas, while drought continued to expand across northern New England, highlighted by much below normal streamflows.

During the upcoming three months, little relief is anticipated across California and the Great Basin, where much of the region is in its dry season and abnormal warmth is favored to persist. Monsoon convection may bring localized relief to parts of southern Arizona and New Mexico, while below-average precipitation favored for the Northwest CONUS may promote continued drought development.

The forecast is more uncertain across the Great Plains and Midwest, where summer convection may ease drought locally, but is unlikely to overturn the longer term drought conditions. Drought development is possible in climatologically drier portions of the north-central High Plains.

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

Click Image to Enlarge

Along the Eastern Seaboard, the CPC seasonal outlook indicates enhanced chances for above-median rainfall, which would help ease the remaining drought conditions.

No drought development is anticipated in Alaska, while forecasts for below-average dry season rainfall across Hawaii favor continued drought expansion. The onset of the summer wet season favors continued drought reduction in Puerto Rico.

Forecast confidence is moderate to high for the Western Region.

  • Drought remains firmly entrenched across the western CONUS, with nearly 90 percent of the Western Region experiencing drought conditions (D1 or worse) according to the US Drought Monitor valid on 8 June 2021.
  • Recently, the climatological summer ridge shifted to western North America and amplified, resulting in record breaking heat across multiple states and subnormal precipitation for the Northwest.
  • Abnormal heat and dry conditions are favored to continue over the next two weeks based on guidance from the WPC and CPC, and the CPC seasonal outlook favors below-normal precipitation for the Northwest and above-normal temperatures across the entire Western region.
  • The summer dry season in California coupled with below-average snowpack conditions yields little opportunity for drought relief, and the outlooks at all time scales favor drought persistence and expansion across the Northwest.
  • The only region where drought relief is favored is across the southern portions of Arizona and New Mexico, where the CPC seasonal outlook indicates no shift in the climate signal.
  • Monsoon convection typically provides more than 50 percent of the annual rainfall across southern Arizona and New Mexico, so some relief is likely. Due to the spotty nature of the monsoon convection, however, the relief will be localized to some areas, while other areas will experience continued severe to exceptional drought conditions.
  • No drought development is anticipated across Alaska. Across Hawaii, the CPC seasonal outlook indicates enhanced chances for below-normal precipitation. Therefore, continued expansion of drought conditions across the islands is anticipated.

Forecast confidence is low for the Midwest Region.

  • Persistent dry weather and periods of above-normal temperatures resulted in drought expansion across parts of the Corn Belt and Great Lakes region. Longer term impacts from drought have begun to set in across the Midwest Region, which makes substantial improvements less likely in the absence of a clear wet signal.
  • Widespread moderate to heavy rainfall (locally exceeding 1.75 inches) is forecast over Iowa, southern Wisconsin, and northern Illinois during the next 7 days, but these amounts are unlikely to substantially dislodge the long term drought conditions. 60-day precipitation departures in the region generally range between 4 and 8 inches.
  • The CPC 8-14 day outlook favors a continuation of above-median rainfall, but probabilities in the core drought area are below 40 percent. The monthly and seasonal outlooks both maintain equal chances for below-, near-, and above-median precipitation.
  • Given the incipient conditions, it is unlikely that climatological precipitation would substantially reduce drought conditions, therefore drought persistence is maintained across the western Corn Belt and Michigan.
  • Since the summer months are a wet time of year and the shorter term outlooks favor wetness, no drought development is indicated.
  • Should a period of hot, dry weather materialize later in the summer, however, flash drought conditions are not out of the question for parts of the central or eastern Corn Belt. Please refer to the monthly drought outlook issued at the end of June for updates.

Forecast confidence is moderate to high for the Southern Region.

  • In contrast to much of the rest of the CONUS which has experienced dry weather during the past month, parts of the Southern Region, particularly across Texas and the lower Mississippi Delta region experienced copious amounts of rainfall, generating widespread flooding.
  • Small portions of drought remain across far western Texas and central Oklahoma, where rainfall totals were significantly less.
  • In the short to medium term, the National Hurricane Center is monitoring a disturbance over the southern Gulf of Mexico that, regardless of development, is forecast to bring additional heavy rainfall to the central Gulf Coast.
  • Given the wet incipient conditions, short term forecasts showing additional rains, and a wet climatology, no widespread drought development is anticipated in this region.
  • Monsoon convection may help alleviate drought across western Texas, while a lack of a clear wet signal favors persistence of the remaining drought in Oklahoma.

Forecast confidence is high for the Southeast Region, and low to moderate for the Northeast Region.

  • Subnormal rainfall over the past two months has resulted in pockets of drought in South Florida, parts of the Carolinas and Virginia, northern New England, and eastern Puerto Rico.
  • During the upcoming week, widespread rainfall of 0.75 to 1.5 inches is forecast across the drought areas of New England and the mid-Atlantic, while the summer seabreeze convective regime is anticipated to generate locally higher amounts across southern Florida.
  • Above-median rainfall is slightly favored to continue across the East during Week-2, and both the monthly and seasonal outlooks from CPC favor wetness across the entire Eastern Seaboard.
  • Given these outlooks and the wet climatology, drought removal seems the most likely outcome east of the Appalachians. Summer convection will likely continue to erode drought across Florida and Puerto Rico, and September is the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season.
  • The lowest confidence for drought improvements exists across Maine and far upstate New York, where streamflows are currently very low.



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