Drought - July 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:


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 20 percent of the contiguous United States as of the end of July 2003, an increase of about 6 percent compared to last month
  • about 31 percent of the contiguous U.S. fell in the moderate to extreme drought categories (based on the Palmer Drought Index) at the end of July
  • 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 13 percent of the contiguous U.S. fell in the severely to extremely wet categories at the end of July
  • 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

Above-normal rainfall in July 2003 improved the moisture conditions in some dry areas of the Great Lakes. However, the month was dry across much of the West and central and southern Great Plains, as well as a few locations along the east coast. The primary stations in southern Alaska and most of Hawaii were drier than normal during July, and most of the stations reporting in Puerto Rico had below-normal rainfall for the last 4 weeks to 8 weeks.

Long-term moisture deficits persisted across parts of the Great Lakes to central Plains, northern Maine, and much of the West.

Some regional highlights:

Citing This Report

NOAA National Climatic Data Center, State of the Climate: Drought for July 2003, published online August 2003, retrieved on August 29, 2014 from http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/drought/2003/jul.