Summer drought expected out west

Weather outlook | Summer 2020
BY BRAD RIPPEY
Source: U.S. Drought Monitor

The National Weather Service’s outlook for July-September 2020 highlights the likelihood of wet weather across much of the eastern half of the United States. An active Atlantic tropical season, which already featured three named storms — Arthur, Bertha and Cristobal — before the start of astronomical summer, could contribute to significant moisture inflow from the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. As a result, odds are significantly tilted toward mid- to late-summer wetness in the Southeast. Farther west, however, drought has developed or intensified in recent months in parts of the Far West and from the Four Corners region to the southern Great Plains. Spring and early-summer dryness in those areas has reduced soil moisture; has increased stress on rangeland, pastures and rain-fed summer crops; and has resulted in an enhanced wildfire threat. 

The mid- to late-summer outlook for the West does not favor much, if any, relief, as above-normal temperatures are likely to accompany near- or below-normal rainfall. In fact, summer drought development or intensification can be expected in many areas of the West, possibly extending as far east as the western Dakotas. Perhaps the only piece of good news for the West is that many reservoirs are carefully managed to withstand short-term drought and at this time remain relatively full, following the wet winter of 2018-19. In New Mexico, however, long-term drought and chronic water supply issues have left statewide water storage only about 60% percent of average.

 

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