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USA Drought UpdateJuly 13, 2001 — NOAA's latest U.S. Drought Outlook predicts an improvement in drought conditions for some states. Good news and relief comes to central and eastern Montana, the western Carolinas and into Georgia and the Florida peninsula as NOAA's climate forecasters call for the likelihood of gradually improving water supply conditions over the next few months. "This is good news, because some areas may now relax water restrictions based on the upgraded outlook for water supply," said NOAA Climate Prediction Center meteorologist Douglas LeComte. (Click NOAA image for latest drought graphic.)

However, drought conditions will likely continue over western Texas and may spread into central Texas, Kansas and Oklahoma. Also, dry conditions in the mid-Mississippi Valley, Arkansas, southern Missouri, and western Tennessee, are likely to persist through October with an occasional relief from thunderstorms.

NOAA's Seasonal Drought Outlook, predicts:

  • Continued drought in the Pacific Northwest, with the likelihood of improved conditions in central and eastern Montana.
  • Dry conditions will continue in the mid-Mississippi Valley, Arkansas, southern Missouri, and western Tennessee, with intermittent relief from severe storms, through October.
  • Drought conditions may expand from western Texas into central Texas, Kansas and Oklahoma.
  • Continued improvement of dry conditions that extend from western North Carolina into northwestern South Carolina and Georgia.
  • The Florida peninsula will experience some improvement;lake levels will remain low.
  • Drought in Hawaii is likely to persist.
  • Drought conditions are not expected for Alaska.

What's causing these conditions?
NOAA scientists are observing persistent cold sea-surface temperatures in parts of the Eastern North Pacific Ocean. These conditions are not only attributed to a post La Niña syndrome—the lingering atmospheric effects of the 1998-2000 La Niña—but are also attributed to the negative phase of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation. Both climate phenomena are believed to play a role in intensifying drought in the central Plains and easing drought conditions in the Southeast. At the earliest, NOAA's scientists indicate the possibility of a weak-to-moderate El Niño event in the late fall or next winter, but this is not a certainy. You have to stay logged on to NOAA for the official El Niño/La Niña (ENSO) forecast.

NOAA's Climate Prediction Center reminds everyone that "It is not unusual for some area of the country to be in drought at some point during the summer," said LeComte. "What is most promising is that we now are seeing relief of long-term dry conditions in some states."
NOAA's scientists classify drought three ways:

  • Hydrological, or water resources drought—the long-term lake and well-level deficits—which takes longer to start and end; this type of drought causes municipal officials to order water usage restrictions.
  • Agricultural drought, which results from short-term dryness and often causes greater economic impacts.
  • Drought in forested areas, which increase the potential wildfires.

Relevant Web Sites
NOAA's Seasonal Outlook

NOAA's Drought Assessments

USA Threats Assessment

ENSO (El Niño/La Niña) Diagnostic Discussion

NOAA's Drought Information Center

Today's Weather

Media Contact:
Carmeyia Gillis, NOAA's Climate Prediction Center, (301) 763-8000 ext. 7163