Tuesday, February 24, 2009

US Seasonal Drought Outlook

PDF Version of Seasonal Drought Outlook Graphic

Latest Seasonal Assessment - Heavy rain and snow during mid-February raised river levels and boosted snow pack in drought-affected areas of California, but major reservoirs remained well below normal. The seasonal drought outlook indicates improving conditions for northern and central parts of the state due to expected above-normal rain and snow into early March. However, it is highly unlikely that water shortages will end before the dry season sets in, given the long-term deficits that have accumulated over nearly three years. Much more precipitation is needed to get the critical snow water content levels up to normal by April, when snow pack typically peaks. Water storage in mid-February ranged from 44 to 83 percent of normal in the largest reservoirs, suggesting that California has a long way to go to see relief from its hydrologic drought. In the southern Plains, moderate to exceptional drought is forecast to continue in Texas and parts of Oklahoma due to forecast below-normal rainfall during March through May. The same dry forecasts also lead to the continued outlook for drought development in southwestern Texas and southeastern New Mexico. Below-normal rainfall expected for March-May also results in a forecast for drought to persist or expand across the Florida Peninsula and into southeastern Georgia and southern South Carolina. Drought affecting parts of Louisiana, Alabama, and North Carolina should also continue. The lingering drought in the southern Appalachians should see improvement toward the northwest in the eastern Tennessee area, but less improvement toward the southeast in the western Carolinas. Areas of drought in Montana and northern Wisconsin are forecast to improve. Lingering drought in parts of Hawaii should also ease.

Forecaster: D. Le Comte

Next Outlook issued: March 5, 2009 at 8:30 AM EDT

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