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NOAA image of NOAA USA seasonal drought outlook as of May 20, 2004.May 26, 2004 — As the Memorial Day weekend approaches and families and friends plan summer vacations and holiday picnics, many people are beginning to wonder, "What will the weather be like over the next three months?" (Click NOAA image for larger view of NOAA USA seasonal drought outlook as of May 20, 2004. Please credit “NOAA.”)

National Summer Outlook
NOAA meteorologists issued their scheduled update to the seasonal outlooks, and for the months of June, July and August, they are calling for an increased likelihood of above-average temperatures across much of the West, the Southwest, the Rocky Mountain States, the southern Alaskan coast, the Southeast, Ohio Valley and the Northeast. With regards to rainfall, an enhanced chance of drier-than-average weather is forecast for the Pacific Northwest.

“Much of the western and eastern parts of the country can expect temperatures to average above normal during the upcoming summer,” said Mike Halpert, head of forecast operations at the NOAA Climate Prediction Center.

The Drought Outlook
NOAA scientists are cautiously looking at the current weather conditions and this forecast, predicting what it could mean in terms of drought in the U.S. this summer.

“Right now, there is a big contrast between the East and the West,” said Douglas LeComte, drought specialist at the NOAA Climate Prediction Center.

Recent heavy rains have caused flooding in the Midwest and South, with rivers in 13 states either above flood stage or expected to rise above flood stage as of May 20. Also, various parts of the eastern half of the nation have experienced intense flooding at various times earlier this month. Meteorologists at NOAA are predicting continued drought improvement in the Upper Midwest and a gradual, yet unsteady, drought relief is on tap for the Southeast. For these areas, the drought outlook is prudently optimistic.

“Meanwhile, long-term drought is affecting every western state and many areas in the High Plains’ states,” said LeComte. “Clearly the major concern, as we move into summer, is in the West,” he added. NOAA forecasters are predicting the western drought to persist through the summer. In addition, the latest seasonal drought outlook focuses on two areas with a high potential for drought development—Oklahoma-north Texas and Washington-northern Oregon. Hot, dry weather already in progress is rapidly depleting topsoil moisture in the southern Plains, and earlier dry weather has reduced stream flows and lowered soil moisture in the Pacific Northwest.

“For the fifth year in a row drought will be on the forefront of minds of many in the west again this summer,” said LeComte.

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Relevant Web Sites
NOAA Seasonal Outlooks

NOAA Drought Assessment

NOAA Drought Information Center

NOAA Climate Prediction Center

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