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Regional Drought Update Date
August 10, 2021
Site Section
Drought Status Update

Southeast Climate Update and Webinar Recap


DEWS Regions:

Next month’s Southeast Monthly Climate Webinar is on Tuesday, September 14 at 10 a.m. Eastern. Register here for upcoming monthly webinars.

Climate Conditions and Outlooks

  • Past temperatures: Near average for most of the Southeast region.
  • Past precipitation: Variable due to summer thunderstorms and Hurricane Elsa.
  • Tropical Weather: Hurricane Elsa brought rain and tornadoes to parts of the region in July.
  • La Niña Watch: ENSO-neutral conditions are favored through summer and into fall (51% chance August–October), with La Niña potentially emerging during the September–November season and lasting through the 2021–22 winter (66% chance November–January). The next update is this Thursday. 
  • Looking ahead:
    • Potential Tropical Cyclone Six is forecast to become Tropical Storm Fred as it moves over the northeastern Caribbean Sea today (Tuesday, August 10). Tropical storm conditions are expected in portions of the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico beginning this afternoon, and in the Dominican Republic by Wednesday. The biggest concerns are heavy rainfall and flooding, especially across the eastern and southeastern portions of Puerto Rico.
    • The updated Atlantic Hurricane Outlook continues to forecast an above-average season. Learn more in this webinar with the August Hurricane Update.
    • August 14–18 outlook: There is a slight probability of warmer temperatures except where there are clouds, and slight probability of wetter conditions wherever the tropical moisture impacts the region. 
    • Seasonal outlook: The next three months will likely be warm and wet depending on if/where tropical systems impact the region.
Current Conditions
U.S. Drought Monitor Conditions: Southeast | August 3, 2021

Current U.S. Drought Monitor map for the Southeast, as of August 3, 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 Puerto Rico, as of August 3, 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, as of August 3, 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
Value Map Hex Color
D0 - Abnormally Dry #ffff00
D1 - Moderate Drought #ffcc99
D2 - Severe Drought #f5ad3d
D3 - Extreme Drought #ff0000
D4 - Exceptional Drought #660000
Main Stats
10.8%
of the Southeast is experiencing Abnormally Dry (D0) conditions or worse
8.3%
of Puerto Rico is experiencing Moderate Drought (D1)
Severe Drought
is present on St. Croix

Drought

  • Abnormally dry conditions are present in Virginia, western North Carolina, and St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI). Moderate drought (D1) is present along the Virginia–West Virginia border, in southern Puerto Rico, and in St. John USVI. Severe Drought (D2) is present in St. Croix USVI.
  • Looking ahead: Drought removal in the region is likely.

Water Resources and Summer Flood Outlook

  • Streamflows are above normal, especially across Florida, Georgia, and Alabama after a wet July.
  • Reservoirs across the Southeast are near target pools, and some will begin heading to winter pools by the early autumn.
  • Looking ahead: Overall, given a very wet July and current high streamflow, there is an elevated risk for river flooding this peak tropical season, especially in Florida, Alabama, and Georgia.

Agriculture Impact and Outlook

  • There was not much impact from tropics last month, but that will change soon.
  • Dry areas in central and western North Carolina and Virginia are still present, but there is limited drought.
  • Cooler conditions are slowing the development of crops, reducing evapotranspiration (ET).
  • There is lots of disease pressure from fungal diseases, less from insect pests.
  • Looking ahead: A warmer and drier week should help farmers catch up on some field work, but it is not likely to last.

Heat Risk Tools: Wet Bulb Globe Temperature

  • Wet bulb globe temperature (WBGT) is a heat stress measure that accounts for temperature, humidity, wind speed, and radiation.
  • It is typically greatest in the interior coastal plain, especially northern Florida, southern Georgia, and Alabama.
  • WBGT is typically highest in the early afternoon.
  • It shows significant variations at a local scale that relate to wind speed (landscape openness).
  • The web-based WBGT Forecast Tool for the Southeast is available!
  • WBGT will be at dangerous levels over the next five days.

What Happened: Southeast Temperature

Temperature departures from normal across the Southeast from July 10 to August 8, 2021. Temperatures were near average for most of the region.
A look at temperature departures from normal across the Southeast from July 10 to August 8, 2021. Source: High Plains Regional Climate Center.

What Happened: Southeast Precipitation

Percent of normal precipitation for the Southeast U.S. from July 10 to August 8, 2021. Precipitation was variable across the region during this period.
A look at percent of normal precipitation across the Southeast from July 9 to August 7, 2021. Source: High Plains Regional Climate Center.

Current Conditions: River Flood Status

River flood status across the Southeast, from the Southeast River Forecast Center. As of August 10, 2021, most of the Southeast is in the "below flood" level, with some minor/moderate flooding along parts of the west coast of Florida.
A look at current river flood conditions. Valid as of August 10, 2021. Source: National Weather Service Southeast River Forecast Center.

Looking Ahead: Summer Flood Outlook

Summer flood outlook for the Southeast U.S. Streamflows are running above normal across north and central FL, as well as AL, GA, and coastal rivers of the Carolinas and VA. This has caused an elevated risk for river flooding heading into the tropical storm season.
Streamflow forecast for August to October 2021 in the Southeast. Source: National Weather Service Southeast River Forecast Center.

Looking Ahead: Seasonal Outlooks

Temperature Outlook: August–October 2021

Climate Prediction Center 3-month temperature outlook, valid for August to October 2021. Odds favor above-normal temperatures across much of the Southeast.
NOAA three-month temperature outlook for August to October 2021, showing the probability (percent chance) of above- or below-normal temperatures. Source: Climate.gov, with data from the National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center.

Precipitation Outlook: August–October 2021

Climate Prediction Center 3-month precipitation outlook for August to October 2021. Odds favor above-normal precipitation across the Southeast, except central and southern Florida.
NOAA three-month precipitation outlook for August to October 2021, showing the probability (percent chance) of above- or below-normal precipitation. 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
  • Chip Konrad, Southeast Regional Climate Center and the Carolinas Integrated Sciences & Assessments (CISA, a NOAA RISA team) 

Relevant Regional Resources

Southeast Regional Climate Center (SERCC)

National Weather Service Southeast River Forecast Center (SERFC)

Streamflow Monitoring & Forecasting

National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center: Outlook Products

ACIS Climate Maps, High Plains Regional Climate Center

NOAA El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) Blog

Climate and Agriculture in the Southeast: Blog

Hurricane Preparedness

Heat Risk Tools 

State Climate Offices

Special Thanks

The Southeast Climate monthly webinar series is held on the second Tuesday of each month at 10:00 a.m. 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).