July 19, 2002 — Drought is developing in the Northeast, and continues to persist in the Mid-Atlantic and the western states. Meanwhile, the Southeast will likely see improving drought conditions, according to the latest Drought Outlook from NOAA’s National Weather Service. (Click image for larger view of NOAA's seasonal drought outlook as of July 18, 2002.)
“Heat waves and lack of rain since June have much of the country in drought, despite the recent deluge of rain in Texas and increased rain in the West,” said Douglas LeComte, drought expert at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, which is part of the National Weather Service.
New to the outlook this month, drought is expected to expand from Ohio and southeastern Michigan to Maine. Recent hot, dry weather has rapidly dried topsoils in the Ohio Valley and Northeast, and rainfall forecasts imply that conditions could worsen in coming months.
In the Mid-Atlantic states, some drought relief is forecast for the second half of July. However, a trend toward below-normal rainfall is expected during August to October resulting in a persistent drought for much of the region.
The Southeast can expect improvement, as forecasts for the next two weeks indicate mostly above-normal rainfall. However, the sizeable rainfall deficits built up by nearly four years of drought in some areas mean water shortages should continue even with a return to normal rainfall.
“Last month was the fifth warmest June in more than 108 years and several western states saw their driest first-half year on record,” said LeComte. “Drought in the Great Plains, which contributed to reducing the national winter wheat crop to its lowest level in 30 years, should start to see some improvement by October.”
Drought is expected to continue in the West until the mountain snowpacks build up next winter. The summer thunderstorm season, which began on schedule earlier this month, is expected to bring some short-term relief, especially in the Southwest. Also, short-term improvement from seasonal thunderstorms is anticipated for the central Rockies, eastern Great Basin, and much of the Southwest, while improvement should be more spotty from California northward to Oregon and eastward to Wyoming. Fire danger remains very high in many areas of the West and will likely stay high.
“No matter how you look at it, water shortages can be expected through October 2002 in most areas that are now experiencing drought,” said LeComte.
The Climate Prediction Center is part of NOAA's Weather Service. NOAA Weather Service is the primary source of weather data, forecasts and warnings for the United States and its territories. NOAA Weather Service operates the most advanced flood warning and forecast system in the world, helping to protect lives and property, and enhance the national economy.