The weekly Drought Monitor was released Thursday morning, as it is every Thursday with data through Tuesday of each week, and it shows some pretty distinct changes in parts of the country. Let’s take a look:
The national view of the Drought Monitor shows that a majority of the country is on the dry side. Roughly 75% of the Lower 48 is experiencing at least “abnormally dry” conditions, shaded in yellow. That means about one-quarter of the Contiguous U.S. is experiencing average or above-average soil moisture conditions.
Here are some highlights when we compare this week’s data to last week’s data:
- No location is in Exceptional Drought (the worst ranking on the scale)
- The West saw drought development in all categories (moderate, severe, and extreme drought)
- There were many areas which had below-average precipitation during the past week
- Looking ahead, the West will likely face the toughest conditions
Some of the biggest weekly changes were seen across the Southwest U.S. where states including Arizona, Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming experienced worsening drought. This is the time of the year when the monsoon showers and thunderstorms help replenish the water table, but unfortunately the monsoon has been weak in most areas. Take for instance, Arizona:
— NWS Phoenix (@NWSPhoenix) July 30, 2020
The National Weather Service office in Phoenix, Arizona has been tracking the number of lightning strikes across the state as a way to monitor the strength of this year’s monsoon. So far, it has been a very quiet wet season.
The monthly drought outlook, going forward, shows drought continuing for much of the West with further drought development likely for parts of Arizona and New Mexico. Unfortunately in the near term, between July 31 and August 12, the precipitation outlook for the West favors higher chances of drier-than-average conditions. This is attributed to the massive area of heat parked over the West right now, not allowing many thunderstorms to pop up.