Latest Seasonal Assessment -
A transition from El Niño to ENSO-neutral is expected in the next month or two, with ENSO-neutral most likely to continue through Northern Hemisphere fall and winter. As of July 9, drought coverage in the contiguous U.S. remained extremely low (3.23%), slightly decreasing from last month's 4.12% on June 11. During the past 30 days, surplus rains fell on much of the northern and central Plains, the southern Great Plains, the Mississippi and Ohio River Valleys, mid-Atlantic, northern New England, and Florida. Moisture from the remnants of minimal Hurricane Barry, which made landfall in central Louisiana, dumped locally heavy rains (more than 10 inches) on parts of the lower Mississippi Valley. In contrast, subnormal precipitation was observed in portions of the west-central Corn Belt, southern New England, parts of the Southeast, the southern High Plains, and most areas west of the Rockies (which is typically dry this time of year). 30-day temperatures averaged above normal in the eastern half of the Nation and Alaska, with subnormal readings in the West, Rockies, and High Plains.
Outside the contiguous states, drought (D1-D2) expanded into much of southwestern and northeastern Puerto Rico during the past 30-days, with most locations reporting under half of normal rainfall (except for surplus rains in northwestern). Historically heavy out-of-season rains occurred on parts of the Hawaiian leewards (e.g. 5.52 inches at Honolulu on June 25-26), especially across Niihau, Kauai, Oahu, and Molokai, easing or removing drought there; however, drought remained on southern Maui and parts of the Big Island which missed the late June heavy rains. In Alaska, extreme heat (highs in the 90's) and subnormal rainfall increased abnormal dryness and drought in the interior and enhanced wild fire conditions as 1.1 million acres have been scorched this year. In the lower 48 States, only moderate to severe drought existed, with severe drought (D2) limited to small areas of the Pacific Northwest, southern Texas, and southeast Alabama.
By the end of October, drought coverage should still be minimal, but some current areas are expected to persist or expand. Drought is expected to develop and persist in the Northwest, southern Texas, and Puerto Rico, and re-develop along the leeward sides of the western Hawaiian Islands (Kauai, Oahu, and Molokai). Conditions should remain unchanged in leeward portions of Maui and the Big Island and along the southeastern Alaska Panhandle. In contrast, drought should be gone from eastern and south-central Alaska, northern North Dakota, western New Mexico, and the Southeast. In Hawaii, as ENSO-neutral conditions become established and the trade winds return to normal, drought should disappear from the windward side of the Big Island.
Forecaster: David Miskus
Next Seasonal Outlook issued: August 15, 2019 at 8:30 AM EDT
Seasonal Drought Outlook Discussion