NOAA Seasonal Drought Outlook – May, June, July

    Drought expansion and intensification dominated most areas from the Rockies to the Pacific Coast, but improvement was more common from the central U.S. eastward. As a result, drought divides the Nation in half as of mid-April 2022.

    A large majority of the area from the central Great Plains westward to the Pacific Coast are experiencing some degree of drought. The only exceptions are in the Pacific Northwest, the northern Intermountain West, and a few patches in the central Rockies and the Southwest. Most of Hawaii is also experiencing some degree of drought.

    In stark contrast, most areas east of the Mississippi River are free of drought, almost all of which is moderate drought (D1 on the Drought Monitor, the least intense drought designations). Over the next few months, this general pattern will continue.

    Nearly all areas in drought from the central Plains westward to the Pacific Coast should persist or intensify, expanding to cover the entire region outside central Arizona and part of the Pacific Northwest. The only areas expected to improve are in the northern High Plains due to heavy precipitation early in the period, and across much of Arizona late in the period with the onset of the monsoon season.

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

    Click Image to Enlarge

    Meanwhile, east of the Mississippi River, existing drought should continue to fade slowly. By the end of July, drought is expected to be limited to relatively small areas in northern Maine, eastern North Carolina, and southwestern Georgia.

    Forecast confidence for the Western Region is high from Utah, Nevada, and California northward to the Canadian Border… moderate across central Montana and New Mexico… and low in eastern Montana and Arizona except for eastern Montana, where confidence is low.

    • Drought is expected to persist or worsen across most of this Region through the end of July, but with a couple notable exceptions and varying degrees of confidence. Along the Pacific Coast, MJJ is a dry time of year, especially west of the Cascades.
    • Less than 10 percent of annual precipitation typically falls during MJJ, dropping to below 5 percent in much of central and southern California. Given this seasonality and the 3-month MJJ outlook favoring warmer than normal weather, the odds for any improvement are extremely low. So persistence is favored here.
    • Farther east across Idaho, Utah, and Nevada, MJJ is not as dry climatologically, so confidence in persistence is not quite as high as farther west. Across Nevada and Utah, most tools and outlooks favor subnormal precipitation on time scales from 7 days to 3 months, so persistence is the forecast for this region.
    • In Idaho and western Montana, precipitation could be more substantial in the short-term, but the seasonal outlooks for MJJ favor warmer and drier than normal conditions for the period as a whole.
    • As a result, persistence or deterioration is forecast here as well, though with lower confidence. This would also favor drought expansion into the areas of northern Idaho and western Montana currently free of drought.
    • In central and eastern Montana, MJJ is one of the wetter times of year, typically bringing 40 to 55 percent of annual precipitation to most locations. Significant precipitation has fallen on eastern Montana recently, and the 6-10 and 8-14 day forecasts lean toward wetter than normal weather from the northern Rockies eastward.
    • In central Montana, light to moderate precipitation is expected through the end of April, with MJJ leaning toward warmer and drier than normal conditions. All things considered, drought seems more likely to persist or deteriorate in central Montana.
    • In eastern Montana, short-term precipitation is expected to be more substantial, with generally 0.75 to locally 3.0 inches anticipate over the next week. In addition, the 3-Month Outlook does not favor subnormal precipitation for MJJ.
    • Given heavy precipitation in the short-term and no discernable tilt of the odds for MJJ as a whole, drought is expected to improve by the end of July, although confidence is low.
    • It should be noted that even in areas expecting improvement, significantly more than normal precipitation for MJJ will be necessary for a significant decrease in agricultural and hydrological impacts by the end of July.
    • Along the southern tier of the West Region, across Arizona and New Mexico, May and June are significantly drier than most other months. Less than 5 percent of annual precipitation falls during these two months combined. But precipitation typically increases significantly during July as the seasonal monsoon gets underway.
    • In central and southern reaches of these states, July alone brings roughly 15 to 20 percent of the annual rainfall.
    • Given climatology and outlooks on multiple time scales, there is very little chance for improvement before July. But across central and southern Arizona, the 3-Month outlook slightly favors a wetter than normal MJJ because of the potential for a robust start to the monsoon season.
    • With nothing expected to substantially improve drought conditions through June, areas where odds lean toward a quick start to the monsoon in July (central and southern Arizona) and therefore a wetter-than-normal MJJ as a whole, some improvement is indicated, though with low confidence.

    In the High Plains Region, forecast confidence is low across North Dakota, increasing to high confidence across southern sections of the Region.

    • Since early February, drought expanded or intensified across the central Great Plains while the eastern half of North Dakota became drought-free.
    • Despite an increasingly wet climatology during AMJ, the seasonal outlook calls for enhanced probabilities of below normal precipitation and above normal temperatures which supports broad-scale persistence across ongoing drought areas of the northern to central Great Plains.
    • Over the next seven days, moderate to heavy precipitation es expected across parts of Wyoming, reaching 2 to 3 inches in the northeastern corner of the state. From the southern tier of Wyoming southward through Colorado, however, moderate precipitation is expected at best, and mostly in the higher elevations.
    • The last several days of the month, however, are forecast to be drier than normal everywhere except the northern fringes of Wyoming.
    • Wetter than normal weather is slightly favored during the 8-14 day period in northern Wyoming, but odds increasingly favor less precipitation than normal from north to south across southern Wyoming and Colorado.
    • For MJJ as a whole, most tools point toward warmer and drier conditions than normal. Because of this, drought persistence is favored in these two states, though with less confidence across the northern tier of Wyoming where heavier precipitation is expected during the first two weeks of the period.
    • In the High Plains Region east of the Front Range, MJJ is one of the wetter times of year. From western Kansas and eastern Colorado northward to the Canadian Border, most locations usually record over 40 percent of their annual rainfall during this 3-month period, with nearly half the annual total expected in North Dakota.
    • Over the next week, heavy precipitation (1.5 to 3.0 inches) is expected across western North Dakota and northwestern South Dakota, and the ensuing period through early May slightly favors at least somewhat above-normal precipitation here, as well as across the remainder of the Dakotas, northern and eastern Nebraska, and northeastern Kansas.
    • The outlook for MJJ as a whole, however, favors subnormal precipitation from the central Dakotas southward, especially across western Kansas and eastern Nebraska.
    • Western North Dakota is in the same situation as eastern Montana, with heavy precipitation in the short-term and no discernable tilt of the odds for MJJ. So improvement or removal is the forecast there, though with low confidence.
    • Farther south, where short-term precipitation totals will be less impressive and where the 3-Month Outlook for MJJ favors warmer and drier than normal weather, drought persistence or deterioration is the forecast.
    • Furthermore, drought is expected to expand, covering the areas of the east-central Rockies and the eastern Great Plains below North Dakota where a warm and dry MJJ is expected.

    Forecast confidence for the Southern Region is moderate to high, with greatest confidence in the western halves of Oklahoma and Texas.

    • Drought conditions intensify moving east-to-west across the Southern Region. There is currently no drought across Tennessee, most of Arkansas, eastern portions of Oklahoma and Texas, and the northern and central sections of Louisiana. Farther south along the Louisiana Gulf Coast, and westward from the central tiers of Texas and Oklahoma, drought has been entrenched since the beginning of the calendar year, and many areas are in extreme to exceptional drought (D3 or D4) according to the Drought Monitor.
    • Heavy precipitation could fall over the next seven days on the easternmost parts of the drought region, but forecasts on other time scales are nondescript or lean dry in areas experiencing the worst conditions currently.
    • A warm MJJ is expected throughout the Region. So persistence or deterioration is expected in all areas currently affected by drought, with some development expected in the small sections of western, central, and southernmost Texas not currently in drought.
    • Drought may expand eastward and northward somewhat by the end of July, but no development is forecast because there is not enough confidence that drought will spread into any specific area.

    Forecast confidence is moderate for the Midwest Region.

    • Patches of drought have developed in parts of the western Corn Belt, western Great Lakes Region, and small sections of Minnesota. Over the next seven days, heavy precipitation is expected in the area of drought across northern Illinois (a few inches), but other regions affected by drought should see light to moderate precipitation at best.
    • For late April and early May, outlooks are either neutral or lean dry. Thereafter, MJJ is expected to be generally warmer than normal, with subnormal precipitation also favored from southern Minnesota southward through northwestern Missouri.
    • Despite the short-term wetness in northern Illinois, no change from current drought conditions is expected in affected areas, with some deterioration possible in western parts of the Region.
    • In addition, drought is expected to expand there, extending from southern Minnesota to northwestern Missouri by the end of July. These are the areas where subnormal precipitation is favored in the 3-Month Outlook.

    Forecast confidence is moderate for the Southeast Region.

    • In the Southeast Region, mostly moderate drought is present over parts of Georgia, the eastern Carolinas, southern Florida, and a couple of small patches in Virginia.
    • MJJ is slightly wetter than most other times of the year here, especially across the southern half of Florida where MJJ typically brings 40 to 50 percent of the annual precipitation.
    • Light to moderate precipitation may fall during a few days through late April and early May, then the May Monthly Outlook favors wetter than normal weather across affected areas from the Carolinas to Virginia, and outlooks favor above-normal precipitation for MJJ as a whole across Virginia and much of Florida.
    • With tools not pointing toward any impactful dryness outside the time periods where above-normal precipitation is expected, improvement or removal of drought is forecast, leaving only portions of eastern North Carolina and southwestern Florida in any degree of drought by the end of July.

    Forecast confidence is moderate for the Northeast Region.

    • Long-term drought continues to linger in part of western Maine. No other locations in the Northeast Region are experiencing drought.
    • Forecasts on all time periods are unremarkable, so the trend of decreasing drought is forecast to continue through the first two months of summer.

    Forecast confidence is high for Alaska.

    • Alaska is drought-free and expected to remain that way through MJJ.

    Forecast confidence is moderate for Hawaii.

    • In Hawaii, periodic rainfall from good trade winds should ease or remove drought on the lee (west) side of the Koolau Range in Oahu. Elsewhere, drought is expected to continue.

    Forecast confidence is low for Puerto Rico.

    • Persistence is most likely for the small moderate drought areas across southern Puerto Rico. May is one of the 2 wettest months of the year, so relief would be most likely then, if it occurs at all; but there are no indicators pointing toward above-normal precipitation in southern sections of the Commonwealth during the next 3 months, so persistence is forecast, with low confidence.

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