Drought - June 2003
U.S. Drought Highlights:
- On the national scale, severe to extreme drought affected about 14 percent of the contiguous United States as of the end of June 2003
- moderate to extreme drought affected about 19 percent of the contiguous U.S.
- Short-term conditions were dry across parts of the Great Lakes, Ohio Valley, and Northeast, and much of the West
- Above-normal precipitation in June improved the moisture conditions in some of the drought areas of the Plains and Ohio Valley
- Long-term moisture deficits persisted across parts of the Great Lakes to central Plains, northern Maine, and much 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.
On the national scale,
- severe to extreme drought affected about 14 percent of the contiguous United States as of the end of June 2003, an increase of about 1 percent compared to last month
- about 19 percent of the contiguous U.S. fell in the moderate to extreme drought categories (based on the Palmer Drought Index) at the end of June
- 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 11 percent of the contiguous U.S. fell in the severely to extremely wet categories at the end of June
- 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).
Above-normal precipitation fell across some of the Plains and Ohio Valley drought areas during June 2003. However, much of the West and parts of the Great Lakes to Northeast were dry. Long-term moisture deficits persisted across northern Maine and much of the West. June was dry at the primary stations in Puerto Rico. Both short-term (1-month) and longer-term (3-month to 6-month) conditions were dry at the primary stations in Hawaii and east central Alaska.
Some regional highlights:
- Oregon had the driest June and the Northwest region had the third driest June in the 109-year record
- according to the USDA, 40% or more of the end-of-June topsoils were classified in "poor" or "very poor" ("short" or "very short") condition for several western states as well as Michigan
- topsoil conditions were drier than the five-year mean in Maine and several Great Lakes and Ohio Valley states
- end-of-June reservoir storage for most of the western states averaged below the long-term mean percent of capacity for this time of year
- as noted by the National Interagency Fire Center , more than two dozen significant wildfires had broken out across the western states by early July
- Although unusually wet conditions for the last 10 months have ended drought in the Southeast U.S., precipitation deficits remained at the 36-month to 60-month timescales