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Regional Drought Update Date
December 8, 2020
Site Section
Drought Status Update

Southeast Climate Update and Webinar Recap


DEWS Regions:
Update Status:

Monthly

Climate Conditions and Outlooks

  • Record Atlantic hurricane season coming to a close. 
  • Record heat in 2020 for much of Florida, coastal Carolinas.
  • Fall rainfall well above normal for most of the Southeast, heaviest over South Florida, Southern Appalachians, and the piedmont of North Carolina.
  • Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands near normal for Fall rainfall and temperature.
  • Pockets of D0 (abnormally dry) in South Georgia and Alabama, drought-free elsewhere in the Southeast.
  • A La Niña advisory is in effect, 100% chance of continuing through winter.
  • Looking ahead: CPC seasonal forecast favors above normal temperatures and below normal rainfall.

 

Current Conditions
U.S. Drought Monitor Conditions: Southeast DEWS | December 1, 2020

Current U.S. Drought Monitor map for the Southeast with data valid for December 1, 2020. The U.S. Drought Monitor (USDM) is updated each Thursday to show the location and intensity of drought across the country. Drought categories show experts’ assessments of conditions related to dryness and drought including observations of how much water is available in streams, lakes, and soils compared to usual for the same time of year. 

There is no current drought in the Southeast and the U.S. Caribbean. A few pockets of abnormally dry conditions remain. 

U.S. Drought Monitor Categories

The color with the hex code #ffff00 identifies:
D0 - Abnormally Dry
The color with the hex code #ffcc99 identifies:
D1 - Moderate Drought
The color with the hex code #ff6600 identifies:
D2 - Severe Drought
The color with the hex code #ff0000 identifies:
D3 - Extreme Drought
The color with the hex code #660000 identifies:
D4 - Exceptional Drought
Main Stats
Abnormally Dry (D0)
conditions in parts of South Georgia and Alabama
Near Normal
fall rainfall and temperature for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands
Above Normal
fall rainfall for most of the Southeast
Potential Drought
development in southern Alabama and Georgia, and Florida Panhandle.

Drought

  • Drought: Pockets of D0 (abnormally dry) in South Georgia and Alabama, drought-free elsewhere in the Southeast.
  • Looking ahead: Potential drought development in southern Alabama and Georgia, and Florida Panhandle.

Water Resources

  • Streamflow: Streamflows remain above normal across the Carolinas and Florida and near normal for Georgia and Alabama.
  • Looking ahead: Streamflow Forecast is more of the same for December trending to near normal across the entire Southeast by January and February.

Agriculture Impact and Outlook

  • Drier conditions have helped complete peanut harvest but have hindered establishment of winter grains and forage.
  • Hurricane Eta brought rain and strong winds to parts of the Southeast, resulting in crop losses, tree damage and power outages.
  • Tropical season is winding down, not much more expected
  • Chill hours behind normal so far but recent cold is helping.
  • Looking ahead: La Niña has potential to affect spring planting due to dry soil, warm winter could mean more pests next spring.

Spotlight: High Tide Flooding and Sea Level Rise

  • High-tide flooding, often referred to as "nuisance" or “sunny day” flooding, is increasingly common due to years of relative sea level increases. 
  • As sea level rise continues, damaging floods that decades ago happened only during a storm now happen more regularly, such as during a full-moon tide or with a change in prevailing winds or currents.
  • Record-breaking coastal flooding due to sea level rise is expected to continue into 2021 and beyond.
  • Additional information on recent high tide flooding trends and outlooks for each tide station monitored by NOAA along the Southeast coast can be found here: https://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/HighTideFlooding_AnnualOutlook.html

What Happened: Southeast Temperature

Map of Southeast U.S. showing observed average mean temperature from September 1 to November 30, 2020

Map of Southeast U.S. showing observed average minimum temperature from September 1 to November 30, 2020

A look at (top) observed average mean temperature and (bottom) observed average minimum temperature across the Southeast between September and November. This fall saw record warm temperatures and nighttime warming temperatures across the Southeast. Source: Southeast Climate Perspectives, Southeast Regional Climate Center.

What Happened: Southeast Precipitation

A look at precipitation departures from normal across the Southeast in October. High Plains RCC.

A look at precipitation departures from normal across the Southeast in October. Generated on December 6, 2020. Valid for September 1 - November 30, 2020. Source: High Plains RCC.

Current Conditions: River Flood Status

Map of the Southeast showing current river flood conditions
A look at current river flood conditions. Valid as of November 10, 2020. Source: Southeast River Forecast Center.

Looking Ahead: Streamflow Forecast

Streamflow forecast map of the Southeast. Streamflow forecast is more of the same for December, trending to near normal across the entire Southeast by January and February.

Streamflow Forecast is more of the same for December, trending to near normal across the entire Southeast by January and February (above). Source: NWS Southeast River Forecast Center.

Looking Ahead: Seasonal Outlooks

NOAA Climate Prediction Center three-month temperature outlook for the U.S.
NOAA three-month temperature outlook. Source: NWS Climate Prediction Center.
NOAA Climate Prediction Center three-month precipitation outlook for the U.S.
NOAA three-month precipitation outlook. Source: NWS Climate Prediction Center.
NOAA Climate Prediction Center U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook

NOAA U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook, Nov. 19 - Feb. 28. Source: NWS Climate Prediction Center.

Acknowledgments 

Speakers

  • David Zierden, Florida Climate Center
  • Pam Knox, University of Georgia
  • Jeff Dobur, NWS Southeast River Forecast Center
  • William Sweet, NOAA National Ocean Service

Relevant Resources

Southeast Regional Climate Center (SERCC)

NWS Southeast River Forecast Center (SERFC)

Streamflow Monitoring & Forecasting

National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) - U.S. Drought Portal

Climate and Agriculture in the Southeast - Blog

About These Webinars

The Southeast Climate monthly webinar series is held on the 2nd Tuesday of each month at 10:00 am ET. This series is hosted by the Southeast Regional Climate Center, in partnership with the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) and the NOAA National Weather Service. These webinars will provide the region with timely information on current and developing climate conditions such as drought, floods and tropical storms, as well as climatic events like El Niño and La Niña. Speakers may also discuss the impacts of these conditions on topics such as agriculture production, water resources, wildfires and ecosystems.

For webinar-related questions or suggestions, please contact: Meredith Muth, meredith.f.muth@noaa.gov