Drought - February 2005

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 7 percent of the contiguous United States as of the end of February 2005, an increase of about 2 percent compared to last month
  • about 11 percent of the contiguous U.S. fell in the moderate to extreme drought categories (based on the Palmer Drought Index) at the end of February
  • 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 32 percent of the contiguous U.S. fell in the severely to extremely wet categories at the end of February
  • 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

February marked the fourth consecutive dry month across the Pacific Northwest. The month was also dry across the northern and central Rockies and High Plains, and parts of the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic. Record dryness occurred in parts of the Pacific Northwest to northern High Plains. But much of the southwestern U.S. hydrological drought region was wetter than normal for the sixth month in a row, indicating that the meteorological drought had ended in most areas according to the Palmer Drought Severity Index.

The February precipitation pattern at the primary stations in Alaska was mixed but mostly drier than normal at the interior stations and wetter than normal at the coastal stations. The pattern was also mixed in Hawaii. In Puerto Rico, much of the island had below-normal rainfall during February, based on National Weather Service radar estimates of precipitation and on Cooperative station precipitation reports for the last 4 weeks. But the dryness was most acute in the southern and western coastal areas, especially at 8 weeks (Cooperative stations, radar estimates). February streamflow averaged near normal for Hawaii and Puerto Rico.

Winter (December-February) was particularly dry in the Pacific Northwest, northern Rockies to central High Plains, and Southeast. Long-term moisture deficits persisted in many areas. Much of the northern Rockies and Pacific Northwest were dry at the 6 to 24 month timescales. Many Alaska stations, especially in the interior and southern coastal regions, were drier than normal at the 12 month timescale. Severe moisture deficits were evident at the 36 to 60 month timescales across much of the West into the northern High Plains and central Plains. These long-term hydrological drought conditions are reflected in the March 1 United States Drought Monitor map. Below-normal precipitation also persisted at the 60 month timescale across parts of the Southeast and extreme northeastern New England.

Some regional highlights:

Citing This Report

NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information, State of the Climate: Drought for February 2005, published online March 2005, retrieved on January 17, 2018 from https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/drought/200502.