The latest weekly Drought Monitor from the National Drought Mitigation Center was released today (March 24), and it’s not a pretty picture for the south central U.S. (see image below). Though drought conditions have been occurring across portions of the south since the spring of 2010 (especially in Louisiana), drought conditions have been expanding in coverage and in severity in recent months. As of March 24, 77% of the region is now in moderate or worse drought conditions.
The graph below illustrates the coverage and intensity of drought conditions across the southern states during 2010 to present. The far left shows conditions in early 2010, with the most recent conditions located on the far right (time passes from left to right). The height of the curves indicates the percent of the region experiencing the different drought levels. Yellow indicates abnormally dry conditions (also known as D0), the beige color is D1 drought (moderate drought), the orange color is D2 drought (severe drought), and the red color is D3 drought (extreme drought). The highest intensity drought is D4 (exceptional drought), which currently is not occurrening anywhere across the U.S. The coverage of drought has been expanding across the region since the spring of 2010, though conditions have deteriorated more substantially during the past 3 to 4 months. This all means that spring and early summer rainfall, which accounts for much of the region’s annual rainfall (especially across the western portion of the region), will be critically important this year.
As a final note, there are a variety of drought tools on the web to help monitor conditions. SCIPP has developed one if its own tools, which you can view at: