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NOAA image of USA drought conditions.May 29, 2002 — Throughout most of the parched East Coast, above-normal rainfall between March and May has helped ease drought conditions, NOAA forecasters said. Between 12 and 20 inches of rain fell on most of the Appalachians and Northeast from March through late May, which lessened—but not eliminated—drought impacts, according to Rich Tinker, meteorologist at NOAA's Climate Prediction Center.

As of May 27, state-declared droughts were in place for much of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, though they were relaxed recently around the Appalachians, and in parts of eastern Pennsylvania.

Slow Improvement From Georgia to Maryland
Relief has not been as strong in southern states. Exceptionally hot and dry weather from April to mid-May allowed drought conditions to intensify along the Gulf Coast and in central and south Texas. Near-normal rainfall has brought some improvement to many areas from northern Maryland to Georgia, Tinker said.

A broad area encompassing the lower Ohio, western Tennessee, and adjacent Mississippi Valleys received nearly three feet of rain since November. Most of Missouri, southeast Kansas, the southern halves of Illinois and Indiana, and northern Mississippi were soaked by more than eight inches of rain during the first 26 days of May.

Between four and eight inches less than normal rain fell on southern sections of Alabama and Mississippi, and parts of Louisiana and adjacent Texas in just the last three months.

The latest U.S. Drought Outlook calls for continued slow improvement for the Georgia-to-Maryland region, although scattered water shortages are expected to persist through August, Tinker said.

West Still Dry
Dry conditions continued in central and southern sections of the West, while unseasonably cool and wet weather brought limited relief to parts of the northern and central Rockies. Colorado experienced its driest November-April, and Arizona its second-driest, in 107 years of records. NOAA forecasters see little hope for substantial relief before July, when thunderstorm activity in the region typically increases.

Tinker said some degree of drought is expected to continue in this region through the summer, with central and southern Texas expecting continued water supply problems.

Relevant Web Sites
NOAA's Drought Assessment Products

NOAA's Climate Prediction Center Seasonal Outlook

Warm Temperatures and Severe Drought Continued in April Throughout Parts of United States

U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook from NOAA's Climate Prediction Center

Latest El Niño Update

NOAA's Drought Information Center

NOAA's Climate Prediction Center

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