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Regional Drought Update Date
March 10, 2021
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Drought Status Update

Southeast Climate Update and Webinar Recap


DEWS Regions:

Next month’s Southeast Monthly Climate Webinar is on Tuesday, April 13 at 10 am ET, with a special presentation on the Spring Flood Outlook. Watch the March 9 webinar recording, and register for upcoming webinars.

Climate Conditions and Outlooks

  • Winter had an atypical La Niña pattern due to the Arctic Oscillation and Polar Vortex. A good description is found here.
  • February had near-average temperatures, with above-average temperatures for Florida.
  • February precipitation was variable for the region, with above-average precipitation for eastern South Carolina and southern Georgia, and below-average for Alabama.
  • February severe weather included an EF-3 Tornado in North Carolina.
  • A La Niña Advisory is still in affect, with a potential transition to neutral during spring (60% chance April-June). There is potential for another La Niña to follow.
  • Spring is here! Pollen season will arrive soon. The USA National Phenology Network has models that predict the "start of spring" (timing of leaf out or bloom for species active in early spring) at a particular location. Visit www.usanpn.org to track the status of spring and to see forecasts of pests and invasive species.
  • Looking ahead: The next 6-10 days have an active pattern with the probability of warmer temperatures and wetter conditions for the region. Spring will be warm with the southern part of the Southeast likely to be dry. There is potential for an active tornado season.
Current Conditions
U.S. Drought Monitor Conditions: Southeast | March 2, 2021

Current U.S. Drought Monitor map for the Southeast with data valid for March 2, 2021. 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. 

Moderate drought is present in Alabama, while pockets of abnormally dry conditions remain in Florida and Georgia.

Current U.S. Drought Monitor map for Puerto Rico with data valid for March 2, 2021. 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. 

Current U.S. Drought Monitor map for the U.S. Virgin Islands with data valid for March 2, 2021. 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. 

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

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

U.S. Drought Monitor Categories

The color with the hex code #ffffff identifies:
No Drought
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
The color with the hex code #919191 identifies:
No Data
Main Stats
7.79%
of the Southeast DEWS is experiencing Abnormally Dry (D0) or worse conditions
1.42%
of the Southeast DEWS is experiencing Moderate Drought (D1)
22.8%
of Puerto Rico is experiencing Abnormally Dry (D0) to Moderate Drought (D1) conditions
60%
chance of La Niña continuing through spring (April-June)

Drought 

  • Short-term moderate drought (D1) is present in Alabama, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Abnormally dry (D0) conditions are present in Florida and Georgia.
  • Looking ahead: There is possible drought development in parts of Florida and Georgia as warmer temperatures increase evaporation.

Water Resources and Spring Flood Outlook 

  • Streamflows remain above normal across the Carolinas, coastal Georgia, and parts of north Florida, and near normal across north Georgia and Alabama as well as central and south Florida.
  • Looking ahead: The Spring Flood Outlook calls for typical springtime river flooding except for the coastal Carolinas region and southern Virginia, where flooding may be more than typical in coverage and magnitude.

Agriculture Impact and Outlook 

  • Warmer weather means more threats from fungal diseases and insects like spider mites.
  • Wet conditions will continue to hamper farmers in some areas, while drier conditions will help some producers catch up.
  • Crops are coming along well, and insect and disease pressure has not been excessive but should be watched and treated quickly. Blueberries are blooming and vulnerable to frost.
  • Looking ahead: More typical La Niña conditions are expected. End of winter dormancy means increased water needs by plants, and a lack of rain in some areas could lead to dry conditions and flash drought.

 What Happened: Southeast Temperature

Temperature departures from normal across the Southeast from February 7 to March 8, 2021. Shows near-average temperatures across much of the region, with above-average temperatures in Florida.
A look at temperature departures from normal across the Southeast from February 7 to March 8, 2021. Source: High Plains Regional Climate Center.

What Happened: Southeast Precipitation 

Precipitation departures from normal across the Southeast from February 7 to March 8, 2021. Shows varied precipitation across the region, with above-normal precipitation for eastern South Carolina and Southern Georgia and below-normal for Alabama
A look at precipitation departures from normal across the Southeast from February 7 to March 8, 2021. Source: High Plains Regional Climate Center.

Current Conditions: River Flood Status

Map of the Southeast showing river flood conditions as of March 9, 2021. Some minor flooding forecasted or observed in the eastern Carolinas and Georgia.
A look at current river flood conditions. Valid as of March 9, 2021. Source: National Weather Service Southeast River Forecast Center.

Looking Ahead: Streamflow Forecast

Streamflow forecast map of the Southeast. With streamflows running well above normal, the potential for river flooding will be higher than usual for this time of year across parts of the Carolinas and Southern Virginia.
Streamflow forecast for March to April 2021 in the Southeast. Source: National Weather Service Southeast River Forecast Center.

Looking Ahead: Seasonal Outlooks 

March to May 2021 temperature outlook for the U.S., from Climate.gov with data from NOAA's Climate Prediction Center. Odds favor above-normal temperatures across the Southeast.
NOAA three-month temperature outlook for March to May 2021. Source: Climate.gov, with data from the National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center.
March to May 2021 precipitation outlook for the U.S., from Climate.gov with data from NOAA's Climate Prediction Center. Odds favor below-normal precipitation across Florida and southern Alabama and Georgia.
NOAA three-month precipitation outlook for March to May 2021. Source: Climate.gov, with data from the National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center.

Acknowledgments 

Webinar Speakers

  • Sandra Rayne, Southeast Regional Climate Center
  • Jeff Dobur, National Weather Service Southeast River Forecast Center
  • Pam Knox, University of Georgia

Relevant Regional Resources

Southeast Regional Climate Center (SERCC) [website currently under construction]

National Weather Service Southeast River Forecast Center (SERFC)

Streamflow Monitoring & Forecasting

Climate and Agriculture in the Southeast: Blog

National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center: Outlook Products

ACIS Climate Maps, High Plains Regional Climate Center

The USA National Phenology Network

Special Thanks

The Southeast Climate monthly webinar series is held on the second 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 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).