Drought Outlook: Expected Improvements in Midsouth, Rockies

    The drought in the Northeast and middle Atlantic States should persist outside New England, but improve or be removed in central and eastern parts of that region. There is uncertainty regarding how far west significant precipitation will reach, and any deviations from the forecast would effect how far east drought will persist.

    Broadscale improvement is anticipated throughout the interior Southeast drought region, including the wide swath of D3 and D4 conditions impacting central Alabama, northern and central Georgia, and the southern Appalachians.

    Heavy precipitation is not expected farther southeast in southeastern Georgia and the Florida Peninsula, so drought persistence is anticipated, with southward expansion forecast through much of the Peninsula.

    Farther west, January is a relatively dry month in most areas from the Front Range of the Rockies eastward to western sections of the Mississippi Valley, with some regions averaging as little as 1 to 2 percent of annual rainfall. Persistence is expected throughout the region, including the broad drought area from the central High Plains southeastward into Arkansas and adjacent areas.

    Some expansion is forecast where antecedent dryness and there is high confidence of only light precipitation at best; specifically, some areas in and near south-central Kansas, southeasternmost Colorado, the northern Texas Panhandle, the western Big Bend region, and far southern Texas. The only areas with a reasonable possibility of beneficial precipitation (more than forecast) extend from east Kansas and Missouri southward through northeastern Texas.

    United States Monthly Drought Outlook Graphic - click on image to enlarge

    Click Image to Enlarge

    Drought extent and severity have been trending downward from northern parts of the western Rockies and Intermountain West southward through Utah, and enhanced chances for above-median January precipitation favor removal of the scattered D1 areas there. To the south and west, improvement or removal of drought is forecast for western Nevada, the Sierra Nevada, and adjacent eastern California.

    Parts of the Sierra are expecting over 5 inches of precipitation through first week of the month, and elsewhere odds favor above-median precipitation for the second week of the month and/or January as a whole. Other areas of California, Nevada, and Arizona affected by drought should persist.

    In Hawaii, this is a relatively wet time of the year, and precipitation forecasts imply persisting drought in southern Kauai, but improvement or removal farther south on western Maui and northwestern parts of the Big Island.

    Forecast confidence for the Southeast is high.

    • Most drought areas in the Southeast are expecting heavy precipitation, thus drought improvement or removal is anticipated. Exceptions exist outside the area expecting heavy precipitation, specifically southwest Virginia and surrounds, and from far southeastern Georgia southward along the Florida Peninsula.
    • Drought persistence is forecast for these regions, with significant southward expansion of drought through most of the Florida Peninsula, where some dryness is occurring, and the typically-dry January offers little chance for anything but surface moisture depletion.

    Forecast confidence for the Middle of the Country is high, except moderate in eastern Oklahoma and adjacent Arkansas.

    • From the Front Range of the Rockies eastward to the Mississippi, January is one of the dryest months of the year, and there is no tangible reason among the tools to expect more than light precipitation through at least the first half of the month, so drought persistence is forecast regionwide.
    • Expansion is depicted in those areas where antecedent conditions are unfavorably dry and there is high confidence that the first half of the month will bring only light precipitation at best.
    • January precipitation is more generous relative to the rest of the year through the eastern two-thirds of Texas, but with no weather systems on the horizon that might bring beneficial precipitation, persistence is also expected in the small areas where it exists, with development in other parts of Deep South Texas, as well as the western Big Bend region and surrounds.
    • The only part of this broad area where there is some chance for improvement reaches through Oklahoma and Arkansas. Some tools indicate that the wet weather in the Southeast could extend farther west than forecast.

    Forecast confidence for the West is moderate

    • In the West, drought improvement or removal is forecast in the Sierra Nevada, adjacent eastern California, western Nevada, and the scattered drought areas from the northern Rockies and Intermountain West southward through Utah.
    • Over 5 inches of rain could fall on the Sierra in the next week, and odds favor unusually wet weather in most other areas where improvement or removal is expected.
    • To the south and west, no change is anticipated in southern and western California, adjacent southern Arizona, and northeastern Arizona as well. It is a relatively dry time of year in Arizona, so persistence is expected despite odds favoring wetness the second week of January.
    • Farther west, the protracted and entrenched nature of drought conditions in most of central and southern California should preclude significant improvement despite odds favoring wet weather toward mid-month.

    Forecast confidence for the Northeast is generally moderate, but low in central and western New England.

    • From the middle Atlantic through the Northeast, this is a slightly dry time of year, and drought persistence is expected as far northeast as western New England; tools have been inconsistent and there is nothing tangible expected that could bring improvement.
    • However, central and eastern New England may get a few storms tracking through the region, with heavier precipitation there.
    • The western extent of heavy precipitation is uncertain, so the exact boundary between drought persistence and removal/improvement is difficult to determine.

    Forecast confidence for Hawaii is moderate.

    • Small area of drought exist on southern Kauai, southwestern Maui, and northwestern parts of the Big Island. January is typically one of the wetter months of the year, so with odds favoring above-median precipitation from Maui southward, improvement or removal is forecast there.
    • The month is not expected to be as generous with rainfall farther north, thus persistence forecast for southern Kauai.

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