It’s been very dry, relative to average, across much of the Southwest, Southern Plains, and even into portions of the Southeast the past several months. During much of this winter and into the start of spring, we sort have been in a locked pattern, keeping the below and above average precipitation across the same areas. The map below specifically shows where it’s been wetter/snowier than normal in the green shading and drier than normal in the brown shading during the month of February.
There have been more numerous storms that have affected California in March, which the map above doesn’t reflect, but otherwise the trend on where the below and above average precipitation is located has continued into the first month of spring.
Then when you compare that above map to the most recent drought monitor below, the below normal precipitation correlates very well to where it is either abnormally dry or where there is actually a drought in place. The red and dark red colors indicate where the most severe drought is. An extreme to exceptional drought has been plaguing portions of the Southwest and Southern Plains for weeks now. It has also been hot and windy at times, allowing for wildfires to spark. There is also a worsening drought in the Southeast. This dryness has fueled numerous wildfires, especially in Collier County, Florida.
Here’s some statistics on this drought:
- Miami is on track for their 3rd driest January through March time period on record. The driest year was in 1935 where only 0.85 inches of rain fell during this time period. 2018 sits at 1.57 inches.
- Only 0.04 inches of rain has fallen in Amarillo, TX between October 13th and March 27th.
- 4th driest start to the water year (begins October 1st) in Phoenix.
- Top 5 driest winter for Arizona overall.
Now taking a look at the long-range forecast for April, there won’t be much of a change in the overall pattern. Above average precipitation is forecast from the central Gulf Coast through the Northeast, a region that is not experiencing any dryness. Then notice where the drier weather is expected, across the Southwest, western Southern Plains, and the eastern Southeast. Therefore, not much drought improvement is expected in April. If anything, a worsening drought can be expected.