Drought - July 2001


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U.S. Drought Highlights:

  • On the national scale, severe drought affected about 17 percent of the contiguous United States as of the end of July 2001
  • Beneficial rains brought short-term wetness to parts of the Southeast, especially Florida, but long-term (hydrological) drought lingers
  • Parts of the Northeast continued to dry out
  • Drought continued across much of the West
  • Parts of the southern Plains suffered from a second month of hot, dry conditions

Contents Of This Report:


National Overview

  • severe drought affected about 17 percent of the contiguous United States as of the end of July 2001;
  • the total drought area has held steady at about 7 to 18 percent for the last ten months (see graph below left);
  • the coverage of the current drought peaked in August 2000 at about 36% of the contiguous U.S., which was as extensive as the major droughts of the last 40 years, but not as large as the "dust bowl" droughts of the 1930's and 1950's;
  • on a broad scale, the last two decades were characterized by unusual wetness with short periods of extensive droughts, whereas the 1930's and 1950's were characterized by prolonged periods of extensive droughts with little wetness (see graph below right);
  • although different parts of the U.S. have experienced unusually wet conditions during the last 22 months, there continues to be little change in the overall national wetness picture;
  • the percentage of the nation severely wet has held steady at about three to eleven percent during this period (see graph below left);
  • a file containing the national monthly percent area severely dry and wet from 1900 to present is available.
Click here for graphic showing U.S. Drought and Wet Spell Area, 1996-2001
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Click here for graphic showing U.S. Drought and Wet Spell Area, 1900-2001
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Although some areas of the U.S. had well above normal precipitation, many areas were very dry. July averaged near normal when precipitation is integrated across the nation. Eleven of the last 24 months have averaged well below the normal, while only three averaged well above normal (see graph to right). National 2001 precipitation ranks: Click here for graphic showing U.S. Precipitation Departure and Normals, January 1998-July 2001
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Regional Overview

During July 2001, heavy rains brought relief from the drought to much of Florida, however long-term hydrologic conditions remained dry across the state. Short-term conditions improved across the southern Appalachians, but long-term drought persisted. July was dry across portions of the southern Plains and Northeast, marking the third month out of the last four with appreciable moisture deficiencies. The Hawaiian stations showed continued dryness in July. Long-term drought persisted near the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, and in the interior Far West. This pattern is evident in: Two other drought-related monitoring tools are the Vegetation Health Index and the Keetch-Byram Drought Index:


Click here to go to Top of Page Western U.S. Drought

Rainfall across much of the Far West was near to slightly above normal during July. However, severe long-term moisture deficits remain.
Ranks for the Pacific Northwest for 2001:
  • a slightly wetter-than-normal July regionwide (30th wettest),
  • fifth driest January-July,
  • third driest 12-month period, August-July (see graph below right).
Declared drought emergencies continued in three western states (Washington, Oregon, and Idaho). According to a USDA analysis, the combined July 31 storage for 21 reservoirs/lakes in Idaho is the fourth lowest since 1958. Record low stream levels and record low or almost empty reservoirs in southern Idaho have resulted in the hauling of livestock water and some irrigation districts going to an on/off irrigation schedule to stretch water supplies. The drought crisis in south central Oregon has led to calls for an independent scientific review of Endangered Species Act-related decisions earlier this year that shut off irrigation water to farmers in the Klamath Valley. In nearby Wyoming, irrigation water was becoming scarce as reservoir storage was becoming critical.
Precipitation Ranks for the
Northwest Region, 2000-2001
Period Rank
Jul 30th wettest
( 78th driest)
Jun-Jul 37th wettest
( 71st driest)
May-Jul 36th driest
Apr-Jul 52nd driest
Mar-Jul 35th driest
Feb-Jul 11th driest
Jan-Jul 5th driest
Dec-Jul 4th driest
Nov-Jul 3rd driest
Oct-Jul 3rd driest
Sep-Jul 4th driest
Aug-Jul 3rd driest
Click here for graphic showing Pacific Northwest Region Precipitation Anomalies, January 1998 - July 2001
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Click here for graphic showing Pacific Northwest Region Precipitation, August-July, 1895-2001
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July rainfall averaged across the West region was near to above normal (see graph below left). Since the summer is the dry season for this region, the actual rainfall amounts were small. However, long-term drought conditions remain severe. Northern California has experienced record low river flows and low or empty reservoirs. In the Great Basin, some smaller reservoirs in Utah were empty. Some 2001 ranks for the West region:

Click here for graphic showing West Region Precipitation Anomalies, January 1998 - July 2001
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Click here for graphic showing West Region Precipitation, August-July, 1895-2001
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Click here to go to Top of Page Southeast and Southern Plains Drought

Locally heavy rains improved drought conditions over parts of the southern Appalachians and Florida during July. The Palmer indices and the Standardized Precipitation Index suggested that the meteorological drought was over (see map below left) but the hydrological drought continued (see map below right). In spite of the recent rains, aquifers in west-central Florida remained below normal, with water restrictions being implemented on the west coast of the state.

Click here for graphic showing U.S. meteorological drought areas, July 2001
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Click here for graphic showing U.S. hydrologic drought areas, July 2001
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Rainfall averaged across the Southeast region was near to well above normal during the last two months (see graph below left). However, long-term deficits remain, with August 2000-July 2001 ranking as the 40th driest such period on record (see graph below right). Severe drought continued in the area around the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers (see maps above), and July was dry across portions of southern Puerto Rico.

Click here for graphic showing Southeast Region Precipitation Anomalies, January 1998 - July 2001
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Click here for graphic showing Southeast Region Precipitation, August-July, 1895-2001
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Conditions averaged across the South region were hot and dry during July, with the month ranking as the fifth hottest and 20th driest July on record. Conditions were especially extreme in Texas and Oklahoma. Click here for graphic showing South Region Precipitation Anomalies, January 1998 - July 2001
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Click here for graphic showing Texas Statewide Precipitation Anomalies, January 1998 - July 2001
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Click here for graphic showing Oklahoma Statewide Precipitation Anomalies, January 1998 - July 2001
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Some Texas statewide temperature and precipitation ranks include: Some Oklahoma statewide temperature and precipitation ranks include:

Western and central Texas was an "epicenter" of heat and drought this month, with July marking the second consecutive month of extremely dry conditions. The region had the third warmest (see graph below right) and tenth driest July in the 1895-2001 record, third driest (see graph below left) and fifth warmest June-July, third warmest and fourth driest April-July, and 13th warmest February-July. Among the Texas stations setting records was Amarillo with the driest July and a record number of days in July with maximum temperatures of 100 degrees (F) or hotter.

Click here for graphic showing West and Central Texas Precipitation, June-July, 1895-2001
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Click here for graphic showing West and Central Texas Temperature, July, 1895-2001
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Click here to go to Top of Page Northeast and Great Lakes Region Dryness

July 2001 was dry over much of the Northeast and Great Lakes (East North Central) regions. The Northeast had the seventh driest July regionwide in the 1895-2001 record (see graph below right). Other 2001 ranks include:
  • 11th driest October-July, and
  • 13th driest August-July.
Some communities experienced record dryness, including the driest April-July on record at Burlington, Vermont. In northern Vermont and western and northern New York, the dry conditions of the last several months have begun to reduce streamflows, stress vegetation, and prompt water restrictions in some communities. The dryness was impacting agriculture in Wisconsin. The hot, dry weather prompted some parched communities in the Cleveland, Ohio area to issue watering restrictions.

Click here for graphic showing Northeast Region Precipitation Anomalies, January 1998 - July 2001
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Click here for graphic showing Northeast Region Precipitation, July, 1895-2001
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Click here to go to Top of Page Additional Contacts:

Damage due to the drought has been summarized by NOAA and the Office of Global Programs in the Climatological Impacts section of the Climate Information Project. Crop impact information can be found at the USDA NASS (National Agricultural Statistics Service) and Weekly Weather and Crop Bulletin pages. Drought statements by local National Weather Service Offices can be found at the NWS Hydrologic Information Center. Drought threat assessments and other information can be found at NOAA's Drought Information Center. Additional drought information can be found at the National Drought Mitigation Center, the USDA's National Agricultural Library, the interim National Drought Council, and the NOAA Paleoclimatology Program. The following states have set up web pages detailing their plans to handle drought emergencies:
Florida Panhandle - Georgia - Hawaii - Idaho - Kentucky - Montana - Nebraska
New Mexico - North Carolina - Oklahoma-1 - Oklahoma-2 - South Carolina - Texas - Washington

For additional information on the 2001 wildfire season please see the National Interagency Fire Center web site or the U.S. Forest Service Fire and Aviation web site.

NCDC's Drought Recovery Page shows the precipitation required to end or ameliorate droughts and the probability of receiving the required precipitation.

Additional climate monitoring graphics can be found at the Climate Prediction Center's monitoring pages:

Citing This Report

NOAA National Climatic Data Center, State of the Climate: Drought for July 2001, published online August 2001, retrieved on December 23, 2014 from http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/drought/2001/7.