U.S. Drought Monitor Update for September 11, 2012

Sept 11, 2012 U.S. Drought Monitor Map

According to the September 11, 2012 U.S. Drought Monitor, moderate to exceptional drought covers 64.2% of the contiguous United States. This is up from 63.4% last week, even with Hurricane Isaac easing conditions in some locations. Exceptional drought rose to 6.2%.

Throughout the week the United States saw some minor improvements in parts of the Mid-Atlantic, Midwest, and Northeast associated with the passage of a strong cold front during the weekend. In the Southwest, southerly flows continued to deliver monsoonal rains helping to ease drought conditions over portions of Arizona and the Great Basin. Some worsening of drought conditions continued in the Plains and Texas associated with hot, dry conditions in the region. The Northeast and parts of the Mid-Atlantic continued to benefit from recent rainfall leading to improvements in New York, Vermont, Maine, Delaware, and Maryland.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s World Agriculture Outlook Board estimates that 84% of the corn grown in the United States is experiencing drought as of September 11. Similarly, 81% of soybeans, 66% of hay, and 74% of cattle are also experiencing drought.

Certain weather and climate extremes, such as more frequent or severe floods and droughts, are predicted to be more likely with climate change. However, the role of climate change in this drought is uncertain. According to the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2012) report on extreme events and disasters, there is medium confidence that some regions of the world have witnessed more intense and longer droughts, but in some regions including central North America, droughts have become less frequent, less intense, or shorter in duration since about 1950. Conditions over the Great Plains and Midwest have been as bad, or worse, than the current drought numerous times in our instrumental record.

The U.S. Drought Monitor is a partnership between NOAA, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the National Drought Mitigation Center and represents an assessment of drought conditions drawn from hundreds of indicators and peer-reviewed by experts in the field.

To view the full U.S. Drought Monitor weekly update, visit www.drought.gov.