Latest Monthly Assessment -
During January, drought generally expanded and intensified across the southern tier of the country. According to the Drought Monitor, drought covers just over 35 percent of the contiguous 48 states, up from the 26 percent at the end of January. Intensification was most acute in the Four Corners States and southern High Plains, where higher elevations reported widespread near-record to record low snowpack water content. In addition, decreased precipitation brought drought into northeastern Oregon. Drought continued essentially unchanged in most of the northern Plains outside eastern Montana, where the only broad area of improvement was observed. Drought development and expansion is expected to dominate the country again in February, with substantial development forecast in central and western parts of the country. The persistent below-normal precipitation observed across the southern tier of the country is consistent with favored conditions during a La Niña winter. Elsewhere, spotty improvementand removal is expected in the Southeast while broader relief continues in eastern Montana. The small areas of drought in parts of leeward Hawaii should be removed from the map by the end of February.
Forecaster: Rich Tinker
Next Monthly Outlook issued: February 28, 2018 at 3 PM EST
Monthly Drought Outlook Discussion