U.S. Drought Worsens Despite Increase In Rainfall

Chris Greenhough

The U.S. drought has deepened again despite reports showing improving weather conditions.

The U.S. Drought Monitor released its weekly report Wednesday, revealing that the severity of droughts has increased across the continental U.S. The report showed that 60.1 percent of the lower 48 states were in some form of drought as of Tuesday. That was up from 58.8 percent the previous week, a rise that occurred despite an increase in rainstorms since late-September.

The amount of land in "extreme" or "exceptional" drought — the two gravest classifications — increased from 18.3 percent to 19.04 percent.

The U.S. Drought Monitor's weekly map (below) sums up the situation, with intense drought affecting most of the center of the nation as well as parts of Texas and the Southeast.

However, one meteorologist has said that Wednesday's data should not cause concern. Richard Heim, a meteorologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Climatic Data Center, said that, although drought normally subsides as winter closes in, the U.S. Drought Monitor report only shows how a sizable part of the country received little rain for a one-off week. Heim adds:

"The places that are getting precipitation, like the Pacific Northwest, are not in drought, while areas that need the rainfall to end the drought aren't getting it. I would expect the drought area to expand again by next week since little rain is forecast in the Midwest in coming days."
"What's driving the weather? It's kind of a car with no one at the steering wheel. None of the atmospheric indicators are really strong. A lot of them are tickling around the edges and fighting about who wants to be king of the hill, but none of them are dominant."

U.S. Drought Worsens, 60 Percent Of Lower 48 States In Drought 1