Issued 11 April 2016
Contents Of This Report:
Map showing Palmer Z Index
Percent Area of U.S. in Moderate to Extreme Drought, Jan 1996 to present
April-March precipitation for Koror, 1953-2016

Please note that the values presented in this report are based on preliminary data. They will change when the final data are processed, but will not be replaced on these pages.


National Drought Overview

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Detailed Drought Discussion


Overview


The U.S. Drought Monitor drought map valid March 29, 2016
The U.S. Drought Monitor drought map valid March 29, 2016.

During March 2016, a strong El Niño continued to pump moisture and energy from the tropical Pacific Ocean into the atmosphere, invigorating the upper-level circulation in the mid-latitudes. Numerous weather systems in the jet stream flow moved across North America. The North Pacific subtropical high pressure center created ridging in the upper atmosphere which weakened or deflected many of the weather systems away from the southwestern CONUS, while the North Atlantic High created ridging in the eastern CONUS which weakened low pressure systems and fronts as they moved across the Southeast to southern New England, reducing their precipitation. Pacific weather systems were dried out by the Rocky Mountains by the time they reached the Great Plains. As a result of this circulation pattern, March 2016 was drier than normal from the Southwest to Central and Northern Plains, and Southeast to southern New England. Abnormal dryness or drought developed or expanded in these areas. The circulation pattern directed weather systems into Northern California and the Pacific Northwest, with many tracking across the northern CONUS. During the first half of the month, a cutoff low funneled abundant moisture into the Lower Mississippi Valley and parts of the Southern Plains. With a wetter-than-normal month, drought and abnormal dryness contracted in the West and Southern Plains. The El Niño kept Hawaii dry, but the precipitation pattern was mixed over Alaska and Puerto Rico. When integrated across the CONUS, March 2016 ranked as the 26th wettest March in the 1895-2016 record. Drought expanded more than it shrank, with the national drought footprint increasing slightly to 12.8 percent of the U.S. (15.1 percent of the CONUS). According to the Palmer Drought Index, which goes back to the beginning of the 20th century, about 8.7 percent of the CONUS was in moderate to extreme drought at the end of March, an increase of about 1.6 percent compared to last month.

Percent area of the CONUS in moderate to exceptional drought, January 4, 2000 to present, based on the U.S. Drought Monitor
Percent area of the CONUS in moderate to exceptional drought, January 4, 2000 to present, based on the U.S. Drought Monitor.


Palmer Drought Index


The Palmer drought indices measure the balance between moisture demand (evapotranspiration driven by temperature) and moisture supply (precipitation). The Palmer Z Index depicts moisture conditions for the current month, while the Palmer Hydrological Drought Index (PHDI) and Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI) depict the current month's cumulative moisture conditions integrated over the last several months. While both the PDSI and PHDI indices show long-term moisture conditions, the PDSI depicts meteorological drought while the PHDI depicts hydrological drought. The PDSI map shows less severe and extensive drought in parts of the West than the PHDI map because the meteorological conditions that produce drought and wet spell conditions are not as long-lasting as the hydrological impacts.

Palmer Z Index map Palmer Hydrological Drought Index map

Used together, the Palmer Z Index and PHDI maps show that short-term dry conditions occurred over much of the Southwest, Central to Northern Plains, and Southeast to southern New England. In the Great Plains and Southeast, this short-term dryness reduced the long-term wet conditions in March compared to February, while it expanded drought in Arizona, intensified in southern New England, and developed in southeast Georgia. Short-term wet conditions contracted long-term drought in the Pacific Northwest to Northern California and expanded long-term wet conditions into the Lower Mississippi Valley.



Standardized Precipitation Index


The Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI) measures moisture supply. The SPI maps here show the spatial extent of anomalously wet and dry areas at time scales ranging from 1 month to 24 months.

1-month Standardized Precipitation Index 2-month Standardized Precipitation Index 3-month Standardized Precipitation Index

6-month Standardized Precipitation Index

The SPI maps illustrate how moisture conditions have varied considerably through time and space over the last two years. Dryness dominates the Southwest and parts of the Central and Northern Plains at the 1- to 3-month time scales, extending into the Mid-Mississippi Valley at 2 to 3 months. Dryness is widespread from the Southeast to southern New England at 1 month, and persists across parts of this region at 2 to 3 months, especially in the Southeast. Parts of southern New England are dry at all time scales. Parts of the Northern Plains to Northern Rockies are dry at 9 to 24 months, and parts of Southern California are dry at 6 to 24 months. Wet conditions dominate in the Northwest to Northern Rockies at 1 month and parts of this region at 2 to 24 months. The Great Lakes and Lower Mississippi Valley are wet at 1 to 3 months. Wet conditions dominate much of the CONUS from 6 to 24 months.


9-month Standardized Precipitation Index 12-month Standardized Precipitation Index 24-month Standardized Precipitation Index



Standardized Precipitation Evapotranspiration Index


The SPI measures water supply (precipitation), while the SPEI (Standardized Precipitation Evapotranspiration Index) measures the combination of water supply (precipitation) and water demand (evapotranspiration as computed from temperature). Warmer temperatures tend to increase evapotranspiration, which generally makes droughts more intense.

48-month SPEI for current month
48-month SPEI for current month.
48-month SPI for current month
48-month SPI for current month.

Temperatures were much warmer than normal across most of the CONUS during March 2016. With this being the beginning of spring, evapotranspiration is just beginning to increase, so the differences between SPEI and SPI will not be as extreme as they will be during the summer months. But even so, the March 1-month SPEI shows areas of greater drought-related stress than the corresponding SPI map, as does the 3-month map (SPEI vs. SPI).


Arizona statewide SPEI, 2-month, February-March, 1895-2016

The last two months were unusually warm and dry in parts of the Southwest. Arizona had its second warmest and fourth driest February-March in the 1895-2016 record, resulting in the second most extreme 2-month SPEI for March. New Mexico had its second warmest and second driest February-March, resulting in its third most extreme 2-month SPEI for March.

The last 6 (SPEI vs. SPI) to 12 (SPEI vs. SPI) months were unusually wet in most locations, so the SPEI and SPI maps are similar. Significant differences between the SPEI and SPI maps begin to appear in the West at the 24-month time frame (SPEI vs. SPI) and become increasingly significant at the 36-month (SPEI vs. SPI), 48-month (SPEI vs. SPI), 60-month (SPEI vs. SPI), and even 72-month (SPEI vs. SPI) time scales. This is due to persistent above-normal temperatures in the West for the last several years which have increased evapotranspiration and exacerbated drought conditions.


36-month SPEI map 48-month SPEI map 60-month SPEI map

This is especially the case in California, where the last three April-March 12-month periods ranked as the warmest, second warmest, and third warmest such periods for the state in the 1895-2016 record, and all three were much warmer than all of the years before them. The last three years cap a period of persistent unusual warmth which has lasted over three decades. The precipitation so far this wet season helped raise California's statewide precipitation rank to 47th wettest for April 2015-March 2016. But the persistent dryness over the last nine years still gave the state the driest SPI for the last 60 months and a top-ten driest SPI for the last 36, 48, and 72 months. When the temperature is factored in, California has had the most severe SPEI for the last 60 months, and second most severe SPEI for the last 36, 48, and 72 months; the statewide SPEI ties for fourth most severe over the last 24 months.

California statewide temperature, April-March, 1895-2016
California statewide temperature, April-March, 1895-2016.
California statewide 60-month SPEI for March, 1895-2016
California statewide 60-month SPEI for March, 1895-2016.



Regional Discussion


Monthly streamflow
Monthly streamflow
Statewide reservoir storage
Statewide reservoir storage



CONUS Agricultural & Hydrological Impacts:

Drought conditions were reflected in numerous agricultural, hydrological, and other meteorological indicators, both observed and modeled. As of March 29th, 14 percent of the nation's cattle inventory, eight percent of the nation's hay, 13 percent of winter wheat production, three percent of corn production, and two percent of soybean production were in drought. Except for hay, these are increases compared to a month ago. The below-normal precipitation in March and for the year to date dried soils in the East, but soil moisture there was still mostly adequate. Soils also continued to dry out from the Southwest to Central Plains. According to March 27th U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports, more than a fourth of the topsoil moisture was short or very short (dry or very dry) across much of the Plains and Southwest, with more than half short or very short in Kansas (53 percent), California (55 percent), and New Mexico (81 percent). The April 3rd USDA reports for subsoil moisture had more than half short or very short in Montana (59 percent) and California (65 percent). Nationwide, as of April 3rd, 21 percent of the nation's topsoil and 20 percent of the subsoil was short or very short of moisture.

Drought conditions at the end of the month, as depicted on the March 29th USDM map, included the following CONUS core drought and abnormally dry areas:



Hawaii: March 2016 continued a dry trend across much of Hawaii which has lasted much of the last six months (last 1, 2, 3, and 6 months). A mixed precipitation anomaly pattern is evident at the longer time scales (last 9, 12, 24, and 36 months). Streamflow was low on some islands, with vegetation and agricultural impacts worsening. Moderate drought expanded to cover more than three-fourths of the state, with severe drought covering about 17 percent, according to the March 29th USDM map.

Alaska climate division precipitation ranks for the last three months
Alaska climate division precipitation ranks for the last three months.

Alaska: A mixed precipitation pattern dominated Alaska in March. This is in contrast to a dry pattern which has dominated for much of the last three months (divisional precipitation ranks for January-March) (station percent of normal precipitation for February-March and January-March). The pattern transitions to wetter than normal at longer time scales (station maps for the last 6, 9, 12, 24, and 36 months) (climate division maps for the last 6 and 12 months) (SNOTEL map for last 6 months). Warmer-than-normal temperatures have dominated for the last 12 months on both the climate division (last 1, 3, 6, 12 months) and station (last 1, 2, 3, 6, 12 months) analyses. Snowpack water content varied from basin to basin and the warmer-than-normal temperatures increased snowmelt which increased streamflow. Abnormal dryness continued across 16 percent of the state on the March 29th USDM map.

Puerto Rico: Puerto Rico had a mixed precipitation anomaly pattern during March. Wetter-than-normal conditions dominated at the 2-month time scale. Dryness is evident in the northeast and wet conditions in the southwest at the 3- and 6-month time scales. Soils were still dry across the southern coastal area and parts of the east. As shown by the March 29th USDM map, abnormal dryness and drought shrank to about 40.8 percent of Puerto Rico, with moderate to extreme drought holding at 18.8 percent of the island.



CONUS State Precipitation Ranks:

Map showing March 2016 state precipitation ranks Map showing March 2016 state precipitation ranks

New Mexico statewide precipitation, March, 1895-2016
New Mexico statewide precipitation, March, 1895-2016.

March 2016 was drier than normal across the Southwest to Central Plains, Southeast to southern New England, and parts of the Northern Plains. Sixteen states ranked in their driest third of the 1895-2016 record, with six in the top ten driest category. New Mexico had its driest March on record, North Carolina seventh driest, Arizona and New Jersey ninth driest, and Maryland and Pennsylvania tenth driest. The year-to-date was drier than normal for much of this same area, with 15 states ranking in the driest third of the historical record. New Mexico had the eleventh driest January-March on record as well as the second driest February-March.

With wet conditions dominating in December and earlier months, most states had precipitation ranks in the near-normal to wetter-than-normal range for October-March and April-March, although Connecticut had its fifth driest April-March.


Western U.S.


Percent Area of the Western U.S. in Moderate to Extreme Drought, January 1996-present, based on the Palmer Drought Index Percent Area of the Western U.S. in Moderate to Exceptional Drought, January 4, 2000-present, based on the U.S. Drought Monitor

Percent area of the Western U.S. in moderate to extreme drought, January 1900 to present, based on the Palmer Drought Index
Percent area of the Western U.S. in moderate to extreme drought, January 1900 to present, based on the Palmer Drought Index.

March was drier than normal across the Southwest and wetter than normal across the Pacific Northwest to Northern Rockies. This was reflected in the USDM change map which showed drought contraction in the Northwest and expansion in the Southwest. The water year-to-date (October 1, 2015-March 31, 2016) showed a similar precipitation anomaly pattern although the dryness in the Southwest was not as extreme. But the precipitation mostly missed some leeside Rocky Mountain locations, especially the Bighorn Mountain region of north central Wyoming. The winter-season storm systems helped build up the mountain snowpack to near- to above-normal levels in many areas and increased reservoir levels, which accounted for some improvement in hydrological drought conditions. But one wet season cannot make up for several years of moisture deficits, so drought continues in both the USDM and Palmer analyses. According to the USDM, 34.2 percent of the West was experiencing moderate to exceptional drought at the end of March, which is slightly less than the previous month. The Palmer Drought Index percent area statistic for the West increased slightly to 18.7 percent.

Agricultural Belts


Primary Hard Red Winter Wheat Belt precipitation, March, 1895-2016
Primary Hard Red Winter Wheat Belt precipitation, March, 1895-2016.
Primary Hard Red Winter Wheat Belt precipitation, October-March, 1895-2016
Primary Hard Red Winter Wheat Belt precipitation, October-March, 1895-2016.

March 2016 was drier- and warmer-than-normal in the Primary Hard Red Winter Wheat agricultural belt, ranking as the 30th driest and sixth warmest March in the 1895-2016 record, regionwide. October marks the beginning of the growing season. The region was generally wetter- and warmer-than-normal for the growing season-to-date, with October 2015-March 2016 ranking as the 20th wettest and second warmest October-March in the 1895-2016 record, regionwide.


Primary Corn and Soybean Belt precipitation, March, 1895-2016
Primary Corn and Soybean Belt precipitation, March, 1895-2016.
Primary Corn and Soybean Belt temperature, March, 1895-2016
Primary Corn and Soybean Belt temperature, March, 1895-2016.

March serves as the beginning of the growing season for the Primary Corn and Soybean agricultural belt. March was warmer than normal in this region. Part of the region was drier than normal and part wetter than normal. Regionwide, March 2016 ranked as the 19th wettest and sixth warmest March in the 1895-2016 record.

NOAA Regional Climate Centers:


A more detailed drought discussion, provided by the NOAA Regional Climate Centers and others, can be found below.

SoutheastSouthMidwestNortheastHigh Plains
West


As described by the High Plains Regional Climate Center, the warm pattern that was evident in February continued into March throughout the High Plains. Wet and dry conditions were both prominent across the region. Above normal precipitation occurred throughout much of Wyoming and the Nebraska panhandle, which improved abysmal snowpack conditions in the Bighorn Mountains in Wyoming and prevented further development of drought in that area. Much of the rest of the region was dry, especially across southwestern Kansas and southeastern Colorado. A combination of the dryness and warm temperatures led to drought development in this area. Wildfires were a common feature in this region during March, and windy conditions caused them to spread quickly. In fact, Kansas had one of its largest wildfires in history, which burned nearly 400,000 acres. Warm and dry conditions prompted farmers to get out in their fields early to prepare for planting. As spring planting season nears, soil moisture conditions become very important to farmers. Reports from around the region stated that topsoil moisture in parts of North Dakota and Kansas was rather dry, which could negatively impact winter grains. Without ample precipitation, this could become more of a concern as the crop matures.

The warmth caused early green-up across the region, as trees and flowers bloomed much earlier than normal. There was particular concern for the winter wheat crop in southeastern Colorado and southwestern Kansas. Warm temperatures caused growth to progress quickly, and then a hard freeze occurred on March 20th that resulted in temperatures dipping down into the teens and single digits across the area. The accelerated growth, lack of snow cover, and the freeze may have caused damage to the crop. However, drought recently developed in this area, so it may be difficult to determine whether potential damage was caused by the freeze or the drought.

The persistent warmth and dryness in March led to further degradations in drought conditions during the month. The area in drought in the High Plains region increased from about 3 percent at the end of February to over 8 percent by the end of March, and nearly half the region was experiencing at least abnormal dryness (D0) by the end of the month. The area of moderate drought (D1) in North Dakota expanded due to much above normal temperatures and continued dryness. Impacts such as drying soils, low water levels in ponds, and dried up wetlands were reported. In Wyoming, the two areas in drought expanded at the beginning of March. Snowpack in the Wind River Mountains and the Bighorn Mountains had not been faring well due to warmth and dryness throughout the winter. However, above normal precipitation in March helped improve the snowpack in these mountain ranges, so drought conditions held steady during the rest of the month. An area of D1 developed in southeastern Colorado and southern Kansas during March. Additionally, D0 expanded across southern and eastern Colorado, as well as much of Kansas. This region was warm and extremely dry throughout the month. Western and central Kansas received only 50 percent of normal precipitation, at best. Warm, dry, and windy conditions caused numerous grass fires and blowing dust on March 22-23. Topsoil was also rather dry in this region. Without relief, this area in drought will likely expand in April.

As explained by the Southern Regional Climate Center, as was the case in February, March average temperatures in the Southern region were consistently above normal for all six states. Precipitation varied dramatically with the northwestern and northeastern corners of the region experiencing much drier than normal conditions, while central portions of the region experienced flooding events from heavy rainfall totals which were mostly due to the passage of a slow moving cold front and Gulf of Mexico low pressure system. Because of excessive heat and lack of rainfall in the northwestern portions of the Southern region during March, some moderate drought conditions developed in the western counties of Oklahoma and in the northern Texas panhandle.

As summarized by the Midwest Regional Climate Center, March temperatures were well above normal in the Midwest, ranking 2016 as the 6th warmest March on record (out of 122 years) regionwide. March precipitation was mixed. Below normal totals were recorded in western Minnesota, eastern Kentucky, and most of Missouri. The USDM reported no drought in the Midwest for the third month in a row. The 13 consecutive weeks with no drought in the region is the longest such stretch in the history of the USDM which began in 2000. Small areas noted as abnormally dry persisted throughout the month and much of Missouri saw introduction of abnormally dry in the March 29 issue of the USDM.

As noted by the Southeast Regional Climate Center, temperatures were well above average across much of the Southeast and precipitation was generally below normal with several extremes recorded. The driest locations were found across portions of central and western North Carolina, Upstate South Carolina, and northeastern Georgia, where monthly precipitation totals were 3 to 4 inches (76.2 to 102 mm) below normal. Drought conditions (D1 and greater) were not observed across the Southeast region (excluding Puerto Rico) during March. The extent of moderate-to-severe (D1 through D2) drought conditions across eastern and southern portions of Puerto Rico remained near 19 percent during the month. Predominately warm, dry weather during the month allowed farmers across much of the region to prepare fields for spring planting, with corn plants already emerging in some locations. In addition, livestock producers in Georgia and Florida were able to reduce supplemental feeding of animals that had been required previously due to saturated pastures.

As explained by the Northeast Regional Climate Center, March was a warmer- and drier-than-normal month. The region picked up 2.50 inches (63.5 mm) of precipitation, 71 percent of normal. Eleven states saw below-normal precipitation, with six of them ranking this March among their top fourteen driest. According to the March 3 USDM, 4 percent of the Northeast was abnormally dry. Much of the region saw drier-than-normal conditions during March, which led to a slight expansion of abnormal dryness. By month's end, 6 percent of the region was abnormally dry.

As summarized by the Western Regional Climate Center, March saw a return to active weather following a warmer and drier than normal February in much of the West. Several strong storms impacted the region, boosting snowpack across most western mountains. As has been the general pattern this cool season, drier than normal conditions dominated over the southern tier of the region with wetter conditions in the Northwest, in contrast with the expectations of strong El Niño events.

Near to well-above normal temperatures were observed across the West in March. Well above normal precipitation was observed in the Pacific Northwest, northern California, and central Rockies this month and helped to alleviate drought conditions in a large swath from northern California to western Montana. Snowpack received a boost across the Sierra Nevada, Cascades, northern and central Rockies, and other ranges across the Northwest, with all but a handful of basins ending the month above normal. Basins south of 40 degrees N did not fare as well. Sierra Nevada snowpack averaged to 86% of normal at month's end. The southern Rockies were generally less than 75% of normal, and snowpack across Arizona and New Mexico was less than 35% of normal, or in many cases non-existent. Dry conditions seen in February persisted across the Southwest this month. No measurable March precipitation was recorded in Albuquerque, New Mexico, or Las Vegas, Nevada.

As during the past two months, March temperatures were above normal throughout Alaska. Average temperature at Fairbanks was 19.8 F (-6.8 C), 8.4 F (4.6 C) above normal and the 6th warmest since records began in 1929. Precipitation was below normal across much of the state, though above normal in the South central region. Anchorage received 1.23 in (31 mm), 205% of normal. Further south, dry conditions associated with El Niño persisted through March in Hawaii. Most stations in the state reported below normal precipitation, including Honolulu, which received only 0.22 in (6 mm), 11% of normal. Drought conditions worsened this month for parts of Big Island, Lanai, Oahu, Kauai and Molokai.

Pacific Islands: According to reports from National Weather Service offices, the Pacific ENSO Applications Climate Center (PEAC), and partners, conditions varied across the Pacific Islands.

In the U.S. Affiliated Pacific Islands (maps — Federated States of Micronesia, Northern Mariana Islands, Marshall Islands, Republic of Palau, American Samoa, basinwide), March 2016 was wetter than normal at only Saipan, and near normal at Pago Pago. It was drier than normal at the rest of the primary stations.

Rainfall amounts were below the minimum thresholds (4 or 8 inches) required to meet most monthly water needs at stations across the region. These included Guam and Saipan in the Mariana Islands; Koror in the Republic of Palau; Chuuk, Dugor, Fananu, Gilman, Kosrae, Lukonor, Luweech, Maap, North Fanif, Pingelap, Pohnpei, Rumung, Tamil, Tofol, Ulithi, Woleai, and Yap in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM); and Ailinglapalap, Kwajalein, Majuro, Jaluit, Mili, Utirik, and Wotje in the Republic of the Marshall Islands. Only Kapingamarangi, Nukuoro, Pago Pago, and Rota had more than the monthly minimum threshold. Koror had 2.68 inches of rain in March, with the last six months, and 12 of the last 15 months, drier than 8 inches. In the FSM, Yap reported 0.70 inch of rain in March, with the last six months very dry. The stations on the islands around Yap have also been much drier than 8 inches for each of the last several months. Gilman and Ulithi have reported less than 8 inches for the last seven months, and Woleai for the last eight months. Woleai measured only 0.58 inch of rain for March. In the Marshall Islands, Ailinglapalap has had less than 8 inches of precipitation for 8 of the last 9, and 11 of the last 15, months; Jaluit for 11 of the last 14 months; and Mili for 12 of the last 17 months. Wotje received 0.28 inch of rain in March, Ailinglapalap 0.55 inch, and Utirik 0.77 inch. The 4- and 8-inch thresholds are important because, if monthly precipitation falls below the threshold, then drought becomes a concern. Below-normal rainfall is expected to continue for many of these stations as the strong El Niño persists.


April-March precipitation for Koror, 1953-2016

An analysis of historical data for the USAPI stations in the Global Historical Climatology Network-Daily (GHCN-D) dataset, augmented with fill-in data from the 1981-2010 Normals, indicated that several stations had record or near-record dryness during March, the last six months, and the last 12 months. Some stations have a long period of record and their dataset is fairly complete, while other stations have a shorter period of record and the dataset has some missing data. March 2016 was the driest March on record for Mili (out of 33 years) and Ulithi (out of 35 years). The last six months have been the driest October-March on record for Koror and Yap out of 65 years of data, for Majuro out of 62 years of data, for Jaluit out of 31 years of data, and for Woleai out of 28 years of data. April 2015-March 2016 was the driest such 12-month period for Koror (out of 64 years of data), Jaluit (31 years), Woleai (20 years), and Pingelap (30 years).

Rank, Number of Years with data, and Period of Record for USAPI stations for March 2016, October 2015-March 2016, and April 2015-March 2016.
Rank of 1 = driest.
Station March 2016
Rank
March
No. of Years
October 2015- March 2016
Rank
October- March
No. of Years
April 2015- March 2016
Rank
April- March
No. of Years
Period of Record
Jaluit 3 33 1 31 1 31 1981-2016
Koror 4 65 1 65 1 64 1951-2016
Woleai 2 34 1 28 1 20 1968-2016
Yap 2 65 1 65 6 64 1951-2016
Majuro 6 62 1 62 15 61 1954-2016
Mili 1 33 2 31 4 31 1981-2016
Ulithi 1 35 2 33 12 33 1981-2016
Ailinglapalap 4 33 2 31 N/A 30 1981-2016
Pingelap 4 33 3 32 1 30 1981-2016
Kosrae 6 46 3 33 4 28 1954-2016
Lukonor 4 32 4 30 2 19 1981-2016
Saipan 23 35 4 27 2 27 1981-2016
Pohnpei 5 65 4 65 52 64 1951-2016
Kwajalein 8 64 5 64 42 63 1952-2016
Kapingamarangi 10 26 6 18 5 11 1962-2016
Chuuk 20 65 7 65 18 64 1951-2016
Guam 11 60 10 59 44 59 1957-2016
Nukuoro 5 33 14 31 23 30 1981-2016
Pago Pago 28 50 26 50 27 50 1966-2016
Wotje 5 33 N/A 30 N/A 30 1981-2016
Utirik 2 14 N/A 6 N/A 2 1985-2016

October-March precipitation for Koror, 1952-2016 October-March precipitation for Yap, 1952-2016 October-March precipitation for Majuro, 1955-2016

A State of Emergency has been declared by the government of the Republic of Palau and by the government of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) due to the drought. A State of Emergency has been declared by the state governors of the FSM States of Chuuk, Kosrae, Pohnpei, and Yap. In early March, a State of Disaster was declared by the government of the Republic of the Marshall Islands (proclamation pages 1, 2, 3, 4). In early April, the NOAA National Weather Service office in Guam updated the Drought Information Statement for the Republic of Palau, the Mariana Islands, the Marshall Islands, and FSM. The Drought Information Statement noted the very dry conditions of the last six months and urged close monitoring of water supplies, implementation of water conservation measures, and concern for grass fires and impacts on crops and other vegetation.

Drought impacts have included increased occurrence of fires, cracked soil, depletion of reservoirs and other water supplies, damage to vegetation and crops, and unsafe levels of salinity of water drawn from underground wells. In the Republic of Palau, reports have been received of yellowing of vegetation on the Rock Islands, and the Ngerimel Dam has run out of water with flow from the Ngerikill River reported very low. Water rationing has been implemented in Koror, and the Palau Public Utilities Corporation has implemented a new water rationing schedule. In Chuuk State, emergency transport of drinking water is occurring at several locations on Weno, Chuuk as public health is now being negatively affected by the consumption of unclean water, and drought impacts to food crops and vegetation have become more visible. Water rationing continues in Pohnpei State. In the Republic of the Marshall Islands, household water catchments and other water storage facilities in many atolls and islands have run out of water, and agriculture and local food crops are mostly destroyed.

As measured by percent of normal precipitation, Chuuk, Kapingamarangi, Koror, Kosrae, Lukonor, Majuro, and Yap have been drier than normal in the short term (March and the last 3 months [January-March 2016]) as well as the long term (last 12 months [April 2015-March 2016]). Guam, Kwajalein, and Pohnpei were drier than normal in the short term but wetter than normal in the long term. Pago Pago and Saipan were near to wetter than normal at the one-month and 12-month time scales, but drier than normal at the 3-month time scale.


Pacific Island Percent of 1981-2010 Normal Median Precipitation
Station Name Apr
2015
May
2015
Jun
2015
Jul
2015
Aug
2015
Sep
2015
Oct
2015
Nov
2015
Dec
2015
Jan
2016
Feb
2016
Mar
2016
Apr-
Mar
Chuuk104%89%172%54%155%188%53%70%82%63%29%85%95%
Guam NAS263%291%86%215%146%108%125%81%74%65%120%79%112%
Kapingamarangi87%173%161%54%162%112%63%89%134%103%65%88%95%
Koror74%33%107%27%73%143%53%69%41%26%30%36%56%
Kosrae92%84%143%108%138%115%63%33%95%60%113%32%75%
Kwajalein322%204%117%104%171%95%105%88%59%64%17%45%116%
Lukonor83%89%136%77%75%149%40%123%56%123%61%51%77%
Majuro162%171%57%87%207%96%83%40%61%14%46%20%89%
Pago Pago153%172%170%72%125%18%88%210%183%34%54%101%101%
Pohnpei119%219%108%138%199%124%78%67%71%102%49%44%112%
Saipan203%341%115%112%141%92%198%64%154%54%105%106%131%
Yap139%235%92%82%148%68%43%37%58%35%34%15%82%
Pacific Island Precipitation (Inches)
Station Name Apr
2015
May
2015
Jun
2015
Jul
2015
Aug
2015
Sep
2015
Oct
2015
Nov
2015
Dec
2015
Jan
2016
Feb
2016
Mar
2016
Apr-
Mar
Chuuk13.03"10.08"20.03"6.45"19.91"22.07"6.09"7.46"9.25"6.40"2.09"7.08"129.94"
Guam NAS6.65"9.91"5.32"21.80"21.54"13.71"14.26"5.96"3.77"2.62"3.63"1.63"110.8"
Kapingamarangi11.82"20.84"22.14"7.71"13.14"11.08"5.13"8.28"13.20"9.40"6.04"10.02"138.8"
Koror5.42"3.96"18.66"4.98"9.90"16.88"6.24"7.86"4.59"2.64"2.53"2.68"86.34"
Kosrae16.12"14.89"20.90"16.17"19.69"16.36"6.90"4.55"15.37"9.95"14.56"5.15"160.61"
Kwajalein16.94"13.69"8.12"10.28"16.63"10.24"11.71"9.98"3.90"2.02"0.46"1.05"105.02"
Lukonor9.36"10.36"15.83"12.22"10.55"15.15"4.53"11.18"6.35"10.37"5.44"4.75"116.09"
Majuro15.23"17.27"6.31"9.72"24.24"10.72"10.52"5.33"6.93"1.11"3.17"1.33"111.88"
Pago Pago14.35"16.59"9.07"3.99"6.75"1.20"8.15"21.33"23.53"4.49"6.49"10.76"126.7"
Pohnpei21.94"43.68"16.03"21.31"28.33"15.59"11.86"9.95"11.41"13.49"4.64"5.76"203.99"
Saipan5.34"8.11"4.15"10.00"18.51"9.26"21.00"3.61"5.94"1.36"2.72"2.00"92"
Yap7.80"18.41"11.07"12.39"21.99"9.21"5.29"3.31"4.93"2.23"1.77"0.70"99.1"
Pacific Island 1981-2010 Normal Median Precipitation (Inches)
Station Name Apr
2015
May
2015
Jun
2015
Jul
2015
Aug
2015
Sep
2015
Oct
2015
Nov
2015
Dec
2015
Jan
2016
Feb
2016
Mar
2016
Apr-
Mar
Chuuk12.47"11.30"11.66"11.98"12.86"11.71"11.51"10.61"11.25"10.10"7.25"8.32"136.77"
Guam NAS2.53"3.40"6.18"10.14"14.74"12.66"11.44"7.38"5.11"4.01"3.03"2.07"99.09"
Kapingamarangi13.64"12.08"13.78"14.15"8.13"9.93"8.19"9.27"9.84"9.15"9.27"11.43"145.85"
Koror7.32"11.83"17.48"18.53"13.50"11.77"11.84"11.39"11.16"10.18"8.56"7.44"152.90"
Kosrae17.51"17.75"14.64"14.91"14.22"14.22"10.94"13.83"16.11"16.67"12.93"16.06"213.87"
Kwajalein5.26"6.72"6.93"9.87"9.74"10.74"11.18"11.28"6.66"3.16"2.64"2.35"90.41"
Lukonor11.31"11.69"11.65"15.93"14.04"10.15"11.32"9.08"11.27"8.41"8.93"9.26"151.36"
Majuro9.42"10.11"11.01"11.17"11.69"11.17"12.73"13.44"11.39"7.74"6.88"6.58"125.25"
Pago Pago9.39"9.66"5.33"5.55"5.38"6.53"9.26"10.14"12.84"13.34"12.00"10.68"125.57"
Pohnpei18.41"19.96"14.81"15.43"14.26"12.55"15.27"14.83"16.08"13.18"9.55"13.17"182.36"
Saipan2.63"2.38"3.62"8.91"13.13"10.09"10.62"5.61"3.85"2.53"2.59"1.89"70.25"
Yap5.63"7.85"12.04"15.08"14.82"13.50"12.18"8.83"8.51"6.39"5.19"4.56"120.31"

Precipitation amount for current month for U.S. Affiliated Pacific Island stations

Percent of normal precipitation for current month for U.S. Affiliated Pacific Island stations

Percent of normal precipitation for last 3 months for U.S. Affiliated Pacific Island stations

Percent of normal precipitation for last 12 months for U.S. Affiliated Pacific Island stations

SPI values for seven time periods for Pacific Islands, computed by the Honolulu NWS office.
SPI values for seven time periods for Pacific Islands

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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.):

States
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

Regional
northeast u. s. east north central u. s. central u. s.
southeast u. s. west north central u. s. south u. s.
southwest u. s. northwest u. s. west u. s.

National
Contiguous United States

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Contacts & Questions
For additional, or more localized, drought information, please visit:

Citing This Report

NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information, State of the Climate: Drought for March 2016, published online April 2016, retrieved on October 16, 2021 from https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/drought/201603.

Metadata

https://data.nodc.noaa.gov/cgi-bin/iso?id=gov.noaa.ncdc:C00675