Drought - April 2004


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 15 percent of the contiguous United States as of the end of April 2004, a decrease of about 3 percent compared to last month
  • about 32 percent of the contiguous U.S. fell in the moderate to extreme drought categories (based on the Palmer Drought Index) at the end of April
  • 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
  • about 3 percent of the contiguous U.S. fell in the severely to extremely wet categories at the end of April
  • 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

April was dry across much of the Far West, from the northern Rockies across the Great Plains to the southern Great Lakes, and in the Southeast. Above-normal precipitation across the southern and central Rockies and adjoining Plains states brought short-term drought relief to those areas. Much of Alaska was drier than normal, but wetter than normal conditions prevailed at the primary stations along the southern coastal band and the southern interior regions. The rainfall pattern in Hawaii was mixed. The primary stations in Puerto Rico were generally drier than normal, especially for the last 4 weeks, but the pattern was mixed at 8 weeks.

Wet conditions during April in the Northeast and Southwest brought relief from recent (and long-term) dry spells in those areas. This month marked the second and third consecutive dry months, respectively, for the West and Northwest regions. April 2004 ranked as the 22nd and 25th driest April, respectively, in the 110-year record for the West North Central and East North Central regions. Six of the last seven months have averaged near to much drier than normal for the Southeast. This recent dryness, combined with the prolonged dryness that occurred from 1998-2002, has resulted in the reappearance in the Southeast of an area of drought based on the Palmer Drought Index (February, March, April).

This month's short-term dryness compounded the long-term moisture deficits (last 9 to 24 to 36 to 60 months) in many areas.

Some regional highlights:

Citing This Report

NOAA National Climatic Data Center, State of the Climate: Drought for April 2004, published online May 2004, retrieved on October 31, 2014 from http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/drought/2004/4.