Drought - November 2003


NCDC transitioned to the nClimDiv dataset on Thursday, March 13, 2014. This was coincident with the release of the February 2014 monthly monitoring report. For details on this transition, please visit our public FTP site and our U.S. Climate Divisional Database site.

U.S. Drought Highlights:

  • On the national scale, severe to extreme drought affected about 19 percent of the contiguous United States as of the end of November 2003
    • moderate to extreme drought affected about 37 percent of the contiguous U.S.
  • Near- to above-normal precipitation fell across parts of the drought areas during November, especially in the West, bringing short-term relief
  • November was dry across parts of the Great Plains and Southeast
  • Long-term moisture deficits (last 6 to 24 months) persisted across parts of the Great Lakes to central and northern Plains, and most of the West

Please Note: The data presented in this drought report are preliminary. Ranks, anomalies, and percent areas may change as more complete data are received and processed.


National Overview

On the national scale,

  • severe to extreme drought affected about 19 percent of the contiguous United States as of the end of November 2003, a decrease of about 9 percent compared to last month
  • about 37 percent of the contiguous U.S. fell in the moderate to extreme drought categories (based on the Palmer Drought Index) at the end of November
  • on a broad scale, the last two decades were characterized by unusual wetness with short periods of extensive droughts, whereas the 1930s and 1950s were characterized by prolonged periods of extensive droughts with little wetness (see graph below right)
  • about 14 percent of the contiguous U.S. fell in the severely to extremely wet categories at the end of November
  • a file containing the national monthly percent area severely dry and wet from 1900 to present is available
  • historical temperature, precipitation, and Palmer drought data from 1895 to present for climate divisions, states, and regions in the contiguous U.S. are available at the Climate Division: Temperature-Precipitation-Drought Data page in files having names that start with "drd964x" and ending with "txt" (without the quotes).

Regional Overview

Near- to above-normal precipitation fell across parts of the drought areas during November, especially in the West, bringing short-term relief. The month was dry across parts of the Great Plains, upper Midwest, and Southeast. The primary stations in Hawaii were near to drier-than-normal while the pattern in Alaska was mixed with wet stations predominating. The stations in Puerto Rico were wetter than normal during the last 4 weeks to 8 weeks.

In spite of the November wetness, long-term moisture deficits (last 6 to 24 months) persisted across parts of the Great Lakes to central and northern Plains, and most of the West. In the three-month timeframe, the Southeast and West experienced drier-than-normal conditions and September-November was especially dry in the central Plains.

Some regional highlights:

Citing This Report

NOAA National Climatic Data Center, State of the Climate: Drought for November 2003, published online December 2003, retrieved on April 21, 2014 from http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/drought/2003/11.