Drought - December 2006

Contents Of This Report:
Map showing Palmer Z Index

Top of Page National Overview

  • Based on the Palmer Drought Index, severe to extreme drought affected about 10 percent of the contiguous United States as of the end of December 2006, a decrease of about 3 percent compared to last month. By contrast, about 10 percent of the contiguous U.S. fell in the severely to extremely wet categories.
  • About 19 percent of the contiguous U.S. fell in the moderate to extreme drought categories (based on the Palmer Drought Index) at the end of December.
  • 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 (moderate to extreme drought, severe to extreme drought).
  • A file containing the national monthly percent area severely dry and wet from 1900 to present is available for the severe to extreme and moderate to extreme categories.
  • 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).

Top of Page Detailed Drought Discussion

At the end of December drought was concentrated in Texas and Oklahoma. Hydrologic drought continued in the central and northern Plains, Wyoming, Arizona, and northern Minnesota. Two snowstorms at the end of the month improved conditions in eastern Colorado and the central Plains. Abnormal dryness was experienced in the central Appalachians. Except in Florida, conditions improved in the Southeast. In Florida, dryness continued in the eastern, and especially the northeastern, part of the state (December 26 Drought Monitor). In the drought areas, soil moisture was low, vegetative health was fair to poor, and streamflow was low.

Map showing Palmer Z Index

In Texas, hay prices have almost doubled since the drought began, and this year's cotton yield was about half of last year's record yield. Also in Texas, low water levels on lakes and closed boat ramps reduced income for businesses dependent on recreational uses of the lakes, christmas tree production was stunted, and burning bans were common. The shipping season on the Missouri River was the worst since 1951 because of low water levels. In northwest Nebraska wildfires caused significant damage to pasture lands and trees. Mandatory or voluntary water restrictions were in effect in parts of Florida, Alabama, Texas and Oklahoma as lake and reservoir levels dropped and other municipal water supplies were reduced. Increased salinity in the Chesapeake Bay led to a much higher than normal oyster death rate. Agricultural impacts of drought were noted throughout the Plains and in many parts of the Southeast. Some of the impacts were farmers being driven out of business, hay shortages, low crop yields, and lower cattle production. Impacts in drought-stricken areas have been collected and summarized by county at the National Drought Mitigation Center's Drought Impact Reporter.

Top of Page State/Regional/National Moisture Status

A detailed review of drought and moisture conditions is available for all contiguous U.S. states, the nine standard regions, and the nation (contiguous U.S.):

Alabama Arizona Arkansas California Colorado Connecticut
Delaware Florida Georgia Idaho Illinois Indiana
Iowa Kansas Kentucky Louisiana Maine Maryland
Massachusetts Michigan Minnesota Mississippi Missouri Montana
Nebraska Nevada New Hampshire New Jersey New Mexico New York
North Carolina North Dakota Ohio Oklahoma Oregon Pennsylvania
Rhode Island South Carolina South Dakota Tennessee Texas Utah
Vermont Virginia Washington West Virginia Wisconsin Wyoming

Northeast Region East North Central Region Central Region
Southeast Region West North Central Region South Region
Southwest Region Northwest Region West Region
Map showing the nine U.S. standard regions
Contiguous U.S.

Top of Page Pre-Instrumental Perspective

There is no December 2006 Paleoclimatic Perspective

Citing This Report

NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information, State of the Climate: Drought for December 2006, published online January 2007, retrieved on May 9, 2021 from https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/drought/200612.