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U.S. Drought Monitor Update for September 18, 2012

Sept 18, 2012 U.S. Drought Monitor Map

According to the September 18, 2012 U.S. Drought Monitor, moderate to exceptional drought covers 64.82% of the contiguous United States. This compares to 64.16% the previous week. In most places in the United States, drought conditions began this summer, with low rainfall exacerbated by high temperatures. Analyses comparing the current drought with the droughts of the 1930s are ongoing; however, across much of central the United States, the current drought onset is similar to the drought of summer 1988. Both the 1930s and 1950s droughts covered greater areas than currently with drought peaking at 79.9% of the U.S. in July 1934 and 60.4% in July 1954.

This week, the United States saw some improvements in drought conditions in portions of the Lower Midwest, Southern Plains, and the South while drought-stricken areas of the Northern Great Plains and Upper Midwest continued experiencing a dry pattern leading to a slight increase in drought conditions. Across the West, warm and dry conditions prevailed leading to some minor deterioration of drought conditions in Colorado. The cumulative effect of the monsoon season led to continued improvements throughout portions of the Great Basin and Four Corners region. In the Eastern United States, overall drought conditions remained unchanged as dry conditions prevailed in most of the region.

The Climate Prediction Center (CPC) 6-10 Day Outlook is projecting above-average temperatures across Alaska excluding the Aleutians and Northwest Arctic regions with wetter than normal conditions over interior Alaska. In the contiguous United States, temperatures across most of the West, except Coastal California, will remain above average. Wetter than normal conditions in the West will be isolated to portions of the southern Great Basin, Four Corners, and southern Rockies while the Great Plains region will continue to remain dry. In the eastern United States, wetter-than-normal conditions are predicted over the Northeast and Florida. Additionally, the CPC U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook is predicting drought to continue or intensify almost everywhere west of the Mississippi River over the next three months.

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