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HOME > Expert Assessments > Drought Information > Monthly Drought Outlook Discussion
Discussion for the Monthly Drought Outlook

Tools used in the U.S. Monthly Drought Outlook (MDO) include the Climate Prediction Center (CPC) updated temperature and precipitation outlooks for June 2023, various short- and medium-range forecasts and models such as the 7-day quantitative precipitation forecast (QPF) totals from the Weather Prediction Center (WPC), the 6-10 day and 8-14 day CPC extended-range forecasts, dynamical model output, June climatology, and initial conditions such as soil moisture and snowpack. The U.S. Drought Monitor valid on May 23, 2023 was used for initial drought conditions.

As snowmelt slowly abates and temperatures seasonably increase, the dramatic drought improvement seen earlier this year in the West Region this year has slowed over the past month. Current areas of drought have persisted several months to over a year, except in parts of the northern tier of the Region, where conditions have been more volatile. This is one of the driest months of the year in the central, southern, and western reaches of the region, with less than 5 percent of annual precipitation typically falling during the month. Therefore, current areas of drought there are expected to persist despite above-normal precipitation being favored for June. In northeastern parts of the Western Region, this is not the case. June is one of the wetter months across Montana, climatologically bringing 15 to 25 percent of the annual precipitation to northern and eastern parts of the state. Heavy precipitation is expected in much of the state through early June, and odds favor above-normal precipitation for June as a whole, so improvement or removal is forecast for these areas.

Forecast confidence is moderate to high for the Western Region.

The outlook for the High Plains Region is a mixed bag, with conditions expected to ease in southern and western parts of the Region while drought persistence is anticipated farther north and east. At least moderate precipitation is expected during the first week of June across Colorado and Wyoming, with orographically-favored areas expected to record 1.5 to locally 3.0 inches through June 7. Above-normal precipitation is expected to continue through the rest of the month in these two states, so improvement or removal is forecast. Farther east, moderate to heavy rain is also expected across Kansas and southern Nebraska through June 7. Amounts in these areas are expected to decline toward the middle of June, but above-normal rainfall is anticipated for the month as a whole. Kansas and southern Nebraska usually see 12 to 17 percent of their annual precipitation fall during June, making it one of the wetter months of the year. For these reasons, improvement or removal is expected in the central Great Plains. Farther northeast, lighter precipitation is expected on all time scales, and subnormal rainfall is favored for the month as a whole in the eastern Dakotas. For these reasons, drought persistence is forecast where it exists in eastern South Dakota and adjacent Nebraska despite June being one of the wetter months of the year.

Forecast confidence is moderate for the High Plains Region.

In the Midwest Region, drought is restricted to a swath from central Missouri through western Iowa, and a small area around Chicago, IL. However, the past few weeks have been very dry. From central Missouri northward, many areas reported less than half of normal May rainfall, with less than 25 percent of normal observed over most current drought areas, and across parts of central Michigan, Wisconsin, central Minnesota, and the Minnesota arrowhead. The Long Lead Outlook favors subnormal June rainfall, which is typically one of the wetter months of the year. As a result, current areas of drought should persist or intensify, and drought is forecast to broadly expand into most of the remainder of Iowa and the northern half of Missouri, most of Illinois and Indiana, and parts of the southern Great Lakes Region. Cooler climatology and somewhat wetter weather in early June should preclude drought development farther north, but there is a low chance for development there as well, though not with enough confidence to highlight the region in the outlook.

Forecast confidence is moderate to high for the Midwest Region.

In the Southern Region, the northern half of Texas and the western half of Oklahoma are expected to receive heavy rainfall. Through June 7, over 1.5 inches of rain is expected across the Texas and Oklahoma Panhandles and adjacent areas, with part of the interior Texas Panhandle anticipating over 4 inches of rain. Lesser amounts are forecast farther east and south for early June, but from eastern portions of Texas and Oklahoma eastward, only part of southeastern Louisiana is experiencing drought at this time, where moderate amounts approaching an inch are forecast. Excess June rainfall is forecast across Oklahoma, the western fringe of Arkansas, and all but the southeastern tier of Texas. Given the high likelihood of heavy rainfall in the short-term, improvement or removal is expected across all current areas of drought in the region. Outside the drought areas, 30-day rainfall totals under half of normal were reported across central Louisiana, much of Mississippi, and central and northern parts of Arkansas. Near- to above-normal rainfall is expected here into mid-June, with equal chances for above or below normal precipitation for June as a whole. There is some potential for drought development in these areas, but there is not enough confidence in that scenario to highlight any given area at this time.

Forecast confidence is high in western and southern sections of the Southern Region, and low to moderate elsewhere.

Most of the Southeast region is drought free, with drought restricted to portions of the Florida Peninsula and southeastern sections of Virginia. Heavy rainfall is forecast at the beginning of the month across the Florida Peninsula, and the June outlook favors above-normal precipitation, so drought removal is anticipated there by the end of June, even in current areas of severe to extreme drought. Rainfall totals of 2 to locally 4 inches are expected there during the first week of June. Farther north, a persistent area of surface and mid-level low pressure is keeping a moist fetch of air from the Atlantic Ocean into parts of the upper Southeast, which should produce enough precipitation in southeast Virginia to remove the small area of moderate drought. The past 30 days have been dry across many areas away from the South Atlantic Coast, with near or under half of normal reported in northwest Alabama, northern Georgia, the central and northern Carolinas, and much of Virginia. Rainfall over these areas looks meager during the first week of June, with neither unusually wet nor dry conditions favored for the month as a whole. While there is a slightly enhanced possibility of drought development, generally confidence isn't sufficient to define specific areas of drought development on the map. The exception is in northernmost Virginia, which is expected to be on the southern fringe of the large areas of drought development forecast farther north.

Forecast confidence is high in Florida and generally low elsewhere in the Southeast Region.

Across the Northeast, drought is currently restricted to small portions of central Maryland and the eastern West Virginia Panhandle. However, short-term dryness has been ramping up quickly over much of the Northeast Region. A large part of the area from northeastern Maryland northward into central upstate New York reported less than 25 percent of normal rainfall over the past 30 days, with very little, if any, measurable rain reported in parts of eastern Pennsylvania. Many of these areas are expected to see below-normal June rainfall, so drought is expected to expand across many areas from Maryland through Vermont by the end of June.

Forecast confidence is moderate to high for the Northeast Region.

No drought conditions are currently present or anticipated to develop across Alaska. Rainfall climatologically is slowly increasing during June across Puerto Rico, but there are enough indicators pointing toward subnormal June rainfall that the drought area in the northwestern part of the Commonwealth is expected to persist through the month. A dry June is anticipated across Hawai'i, especially given the developing El Niño conditions. Dryness is expected for the next few months at least across Hawai'i, and by the end of June some expansion of drought is expected in northern parts of the Big Island, and development is also forecast over much of Maui.

Forecast confidence is high for Alaska and Hawaii, and low for Puerto Rico.

Forecaster: Rich Tinker

Next Monthly Drought Outlook issued: June 30, 2023 at 3PM EDT


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