Drought - January 2006


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 9 percent of the contiguous United States as of the end of January 2006, an increase of less than 1 percent compared to last month
  • about 22 percent of the contiguous U.S. fell in the moderate to extreme drought categories (based on the Palmer Drought Index) at the end of January
  • on a broad scale, the previous two decades (1980s and 1990s) 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 14 percent of the contiguous U.S. fell in the severely to extremely wet categories at the end of January
  • 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

January 2006 was drier than normal across a broad swath of the country from the Southwest to the Great Plains, across much of the Gulf Coast, and into the coastal Southeast. About 8 percent of the contiguous U.S. was very dry (had precipitation in the bottom 10th percentile of the historical record).

Above-normal precipitation continued to erode the drought areas in the Pacific Northwest. The month was wetter than normal across the drought areas from northeast Texas to northern Illinois, but it was not enough to compensate for the significant deficits of the last 10 months.

The January precipitation pattern at the primary stations in Alaska was mainly drier than average, and at many stations much drier than average. Across Hawaii, the precipitation pattern was drier than average at the stations in Maui but mixed elsewhere. In Puerto Rico, the precipitation signal was mixed, based on National Weather Service radar estimates of precipitation. January streamflow averaged near to above normal for Puerto Rico and the Hawaiian Islands.

The January dryness aggravated long-term drought in the Southwest and southern Plains (3 to 6 to 9 months). Long-term moisture deficits persisted across parts of the southern Plains to mid-Mississippi Valley (last 9 to 12 months) and West into the northern High Plains and central Plains (last 48 to 60 months).

Some regional highlights:

Citing This Report

NOAA National Climatic Data Center, State of the Climate: Drought for January 2006, published online February 2006, retrieved on December 21, 2014 from http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/drought/2006/1.