Sustainability Climate Change

NOAA predicts ‘prolonged, persistent’ drought in Western US

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Story at a glance

  • NOAA forecasters are predicting a prolonged and persistent drought in the American West from April to June
  • The agency said in its U.S Spring Outlook released Thursday that it expects a heightened risk of wildfires across the Southwest, the southern Plains, and the Central Plains.
  • NOAA is anticipating above average temperatures for most of the country in the Spring.

Forecasters at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are predicting a prolonged and persistent drought in the American West from March to June, while also anticipating above average temperatures across the country.  

“Severe to exceptional drought has persisted in some areas of the West since the summer of 2020 and drought has expanded to the southern Plains and Lower Mississippi Valley,” Jon Gottschalck, chief of the Operational Prediction Branch at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, said in a news release.  

“With nearly 60% of the continental U.S. experiencing minor to exceptional drought conditions, this is the largest drought coverage we’ve seen in the U.S. since 2013,” Gottschalck added.  

Currently, around 62 percent of the nation is experiencing “abnormally dry” conditions, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.  

The agency said in its U.S Spring Outlook released Thursday that it expects a heightened risk of wildfires across the Southwest, the southern Plains and the Central Plains, which could be exacerbated by dry conditions and high winds. NOAA forecasters are anticipating above average temperatures for most of the country in the Spring. 

“NOAA’s Spring Outlook helps build a more weather and climate ready nation by informing local decision makers and emergency managers of this spring’s hazardous weather, such as extreme drought,” NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad said in the agency’s release.


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“NOAA’s seasonal outlooks provide advanced warning of the conditions to come, enabling communities to make preparations that boost their resilience to these hazards.” 

The agency’s annual climate report concluded that 2021 was the fourth warmest year on record, with most states recording above average temperatures. Additionally, NOAA recorded 20 different climate related disasters where losses exceeded $1 billion.  


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