NOAA Drought Outlook Monthly – August

    The Monthly Drought Outlook for August 2022 is a challenging forecast to make across the Nation’s midsection from the Rockies to the Appalachians.

    For most of July, hot and dry weather dominated most of this region, bringing rapid drought development where departures from normal were the greatest; specifically, from northeastern Texas northward through central and eastern Oklahoma, southeastern Kansas, southwestern Missouri, and much of Aransas.

    From June 28 through July 26, the Drought Monitor deteriorated at least 2 categories, and parts of eastern Oklahoma dropped 4 categories, which is almost the maximum possible.

    But late July and early August brings a respite from the intense heat and dryness that has dominated the Plains and western Mississippi Valley. Moderate to heavy rain affected a large swath from the central Plains through the middle Mississippi and lower Ohio Valleys, with excessive amounts in a band from northern Kansas through Kentucky and adjacent West Virginia.

    Severe flooding occurred over eastern parts of this region, and St. Louis, MO recorded 10 inches of rain during a 3-day period in late July, where the the prior 44 days (since June 1) brought only 4 inches, or about half of normal.

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

    Click Image to Enlarge

    After the short-term wetness, however, odds favor above-normal temperatures and below-normal precipitation again. Overall, drought improvement or removal is forecast in this region, which should take place through the first few days in August. Thereafter, hotter weather and subnormal precipitation may lead to re-intensification, but probably not by the end of the month.

    The situation is more straightforward in other parts of the country. Robust monsoonal rainfall is expected in the West, which could reach unusually far north, easing conditions in a large part of the Rockies and Intermountain West.

    Persistence is favored in drought areas farther north and west, across the Pacific Coast States and the northern reaches of the Intermountain West, Rockies, and Plains. Drought development is possible in parts of the Corn Belt and adjacent Mississippi Valley, which missed the heavy frontal rains observed farther south.

    Hot and dry conditions should also keep drought areas intact across the Northeast, with some expansion expected into western New England and large parts of New York and Pennsylvania. Drought persistence is also forecast in south-central parts of the contiguous 48 states, where there is little or no respite from the hot and dry July weather, and in the patches of drought across the Great Lakes Region.

    The small remaining area of drought will be removed by the end of August, and at least limited improvement is expected in Puerto Rico. In contrast, Hawaii’s areas of drought should remain essentially unchanged.

    Forecast confidence is high for most of the Western Region, but moderate across northern Utah and adjacent parts of Idaho and Wyoming due to the uncertainty in the northward extent of monsoonal rains.

    • Drought conditions remain entrenched across the central and southern parts of the Western Climate Region, while drought is more patchy across the northern tier.
    • August is one of the driest months of the year in the Pacific Coast States and adjacent areas of Nevada and Idaho. Persistence is favored here, as the climatological chances for enough August precipitation to improve drought conditions are miniscule. With less confidence, persistence is also expected across the northern tier.
    • Odds favor near- to below-normal August precipitation across this region, along with above-normal temperatures.
    • Initial conditions in non-drought areas are highly variable, so while some expansion is possible during August, no specific area can be identified. The situation is much different over central and southern parts of the interior West Climate Region.
    • Robust monsoonal rains in the southern Rockies and many parts of the Four Corners Region are expected to continue through August, with rainfall reaching unusually far north and west into parts of southeastern California, eastern Nevada, southeastern Idaho, and northwestern Wyoming.
    • The monsoon makes August one of the wetter months of the year to the south and east of central Utah, especially in New Mexico and Arizona, where the month typically brings 15 to 22 percent of the annual rainfall. Thus, areas affected by the monsoon should experience some easing of drought conditions, at least.

    Forecast confidence is high for the northern half of the High Plains Region, and moderate farther south due to the uncertainties regarding how much the heavy late July rains will improve areas expecting a dry and warm August.

    • The Drought Outlook in the High Plains is persistence for roughly the northern half of the region, and improvement or removal farther south.
    • In areas affected by the heavy late-July rains, as well as western areas to be affected by monsoon-related rainfall, drought conditions should ease or be removed by the end of August. This includes a significant part of the Plains where subnormal precipitation is favored for August, introducing uncertainty in the improvement/removal areas.
    • Some non-drought areas largely missed by rains in late July – specifically, the Corn Belt and nearby Mississippi Valley – are expected to see drought develop by the end of the month.
    • This is one of the wetter months of the year in the High Plains outside Wyoming, with the month typically bringing 15 to 20 percent of annual precipitation, and 10 to 1`5 percent in most other areas, so the August precipitation pattern will significantly affect drought conditions.
    • The improvement forecast for the southern half of the High Plains east of the Rockies comes from heavy late July rainfall. No improvement is expected after early August, and some areas may see drought re-intensify, but probably not by the end of the month.

    Forecast confidence is high for most of the Southern Region, but moderate near the Red River due to uncertainties in the extent of heavy late-July rainfall.

    • Drought is widespread across most of the Southern Climate Region. The only areas generally unaffected are south of northern Mississippi, and east of western Tennessee.
    • Similar to the forecast in the High Plains, the forecast across the Plains and adjacent Mississippi Valley is divided into areas receiving heavy to excessive late July rainfall, and those that will largely miss this precipitation.
    • The August outlooks favor wetter than normal conditions across New Mexico and adjacent Texas due to the expected robust monsoonal rainfall, and drought should ease its grip on these areas by the end of August. Meanwhile, there are enhanced chances for subnormal August precipitation in areas away from the Gulf Coast and west of the Mississippi River.
    • Near the Gulf Coast and across Tennessee, near- to above-normal rainfall is favored. Across the northern and western tiers of the Southern Region, either monsoon-related rainfall or short-term heavy precipitation should bring improved drought conditions by the end of the month.
    • In south-central parts of the region across most of Texas, the Red River (south) Valley, and the adjacent lower Mississippi Valley, there is no significant respite from the heat and dryness in the short-term, so drought should persist or intensify be the end of August.
    • Some slight expansion is expected in parts of this general region not currently affected by drought. The only exception here is along the northern parts of the immediate Gulf Coast, where tropical systems brought heavier rains.

    Forecast confidence is moderate to high for the Midwest Region

    • Currently, severe to extreme drought in the Midwest Region is limited to southern Missouri and the adjacent lower Ohio Valley, part of northwestern Iowa, and small patches in southeast Minnesota and east-central Illinois. Moderate drought covers adjacent areas, plus a few patches in northern Wisconsin, west-central Indiana, and the Lower Peninsula of Michigan.
    • Southeastern parts of this region received excessive late-July rains and resultant flooding that was local severe in eastern Kentucky. In addition, the August outlook favors enhanced precipitation in the eastern halves of Kentucky and Tennessee. These areas will remain drought-free.
    • To the west, drought improvement or removal is anticipated across southern Missouri due to the heavy to excessive late-July rainfall, despite subnormal precipitation favored during August.
    • North of the heavy late-July rainfall, enhanced chances for drier-than-normal weather during August should keep drought intact where it exists, with some expansion expected across central Illinois, southern Iowa, and adjacent Nebraska due to reduced surface moisture short-term rainfall deficits already in place.

    Forecast confidence is moderate to high for the Southeast Region.

    • During July, dryness improved and reduced in size across the Southeast Climate Region outside part of northwestern Alabama. The northern and western sections of that state benefit from late-July heavy rainfall, and near- to above-normal precipitation is expected in the other small areas of drought farther east.
    • Improvement or removal is the only reasonable forecast throughout the Region.

    Forecast confidence is moderate to high for the Northeast Region.

    • Drought coverage and intensity slowly increased in much of the Northeast Climate Region during July. With subnormal precipitation and warmer-than-normal temperatures favored during August in most areas currently affected by drought, persistence is forecast with high confidence.
    • In addition, many areas across northern Pennsylvania, New York State, and adjacent New England already have short-term precipitation deficits and reduced surface moisture already in place, and if August ends up warm and dry as expected, drought will expand to cover these regions as well.

    Forecast confidence is high for Hawaii and Alaska, but low for Puerto Rico.

    • Forecasts favor below-normal precipitation and near- to above-normal temperatures across Hawaii. This should keep existing areas of drought intact.
    • Some drought expansion is possible, but no specific area appears more vulnerable than others at this time, so no regions of drought development are identified.
    • Across Alaska, August is one of the wetter months of the year, and climatologically seasonal temperatures start declining then. Neither markedly wetter- nor drier-than-normal is favored during Alaska, but drought has been improving for several weeks now, and this trend is expected to continue.
    • There is very low confidence in the Drought Outlook for Puerto Rico, with removal of improvement very slightly favored due to recent observed trends across the northern Caribbean islands, and because August is one of the wetter months of the year climatologically.

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