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Regional Drought Update Date
September 16, 2021
Site Section
Drought Status Update

Southern Plains Drought Early Warning Update


DEWS Regions:
States:
Update Status:

NIDIS and its partners will issue further drought status updates as conditions evolve.

Severe drought conditions appear in Oklahoma and Kansas. Moderate drought conditions expand in parts of northern Texas, and Oklahoma and Kansas.

Key Points

  • Dry conditions are developing (rapidly) over Kansas, Oklahoma, and the Texas panhandle.
  • Very low soil moisture is impacting the winter wheat sowing.
  • Drought forecast suggests that drought development is likely for most of the Southern Plains region in the coming season.
Current Conditions
U.S. Drought Monitor Conditions: Texas | September 14, 2021

The U.S. Drought Monitor 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.

This map shows drought conditions across Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas as of September 14, 2021.

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
6.38%
of Kansas is in moderate (D1) to severe (D2) drought
11.28%
of Oklahoma is in moderate (D1) to severe (D2) drought
2.63%
of Texas is in moderate (D1) drought

U.S. Drought Monitor Conditions

  • Severe drought (D2) conditions have appeared in Oklahoma and Kansas. 
  • Moderate drought (D1) conditions have expanded in parts of northern Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas.

Drought Development Over the Past Month

U.S. Drought Monitor Change Map for Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas, showing the change in drought conditions from August 17 to September 14, 2021. Pockets of Western Kansas, Oklahoma and northern Texas are experiencing moderate to severe drought.
One-month U.S. Drought Monitor Change Map, showing where drought has improved, remained the same, or worsened from August 17 to September 14, 2021. Source: National Drought Mitigation Center.

Higher Temperatures and Evaporative Demand

  • Over the last 4 weeks, the average temperatures over western Kansas and the Oklahoma and Texas panhandles have been over 4ºF above normal for this time of year.
  • This has caused increased evaporative demand, meaning any precipitation in these areas would evaporate from the landscape quickly.

30-Day Departure from Normal Temperature

Map of the southern great plains showing the 1-month averaged temperature anomalies as of for the 30 days up to September 14, 2021. Eastern Kansas, and the Oklahoma and Texas panhandles saw 4 degrees F above normal temperatures.
Departure from normal temperatures for the 30 days leading up to September 14, 2021. Source: UC Merced, Climate Engine.

4-Week Evaporative Demand Drought Index (EDDI) for September 10, 2021

4-week averaged Evaporative Demand Drought Index (EDDI) as of September 9, 2021.  Eastern Kansas, and the Oklahoma and Texas panhandles saw exceptionally high evaporative demand for the week ending September 9.
4-week averaged Evaporative Demand Drought Index (EDDI). Source: NOAA Physical Sciences Laboratory.

Low Precipitation

  • Precipitation over the last 30 days has been only about 25% of average for Oklahoma and northern Texas.
  • Kansas rainfall mostly came quickly and ran off quickly with minimal benefit to surface conditions.
  • The 60-day percentage of average shows precipitation less than 50% of the long-term average.

30-Day Percent of Normal Precipitation

30-day percent of normal precipitation for the Southern Plains through September 14, 2021.
Percent of normal precipitation for the 30 days leading up to September 14, 2021. Source: UC Merced, Climate Engine.

60-Day Percent of Normal Precipitation

60-day percent of normal precipitation for the Southern Plains through September 14, 2021.
Percent of normal precipitation for the 60 days leading up to September 14, 2021. Valid September 14, 2021. Source: UC Merced, Climate Engine.

Drought and Precipitation Outlook

  • Both the monthly and the seasonal drought outlook show drought conditions persisting or developing over Kansas, Oklahoma, and northern Texas. 
  • Odds slightly favor below-normal precipitation for the Southern Plains for the remainder of the year.
  • Precipitation totals usually decline over the Fall season.

U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook: September 16–December 31, 2021

Climate Prediction Center's seasonal drought outlook, predicting where drought is likely to worsen, improve, or remain the same from September 16–December 31, 2021.
U.S. seasonal drought outlook, predicting where drought is likely to persist, improve, develop, or be removed from September 16–December 31, 2021. Source: NOAA Climate Prediction Center.

Three-Month Precipitation Outlook: October–December, 2021

Climate Prediction Center three-month precipitation outlook for October–December 2021, showing the probability of above-normal, below-normal, or near-normal conditions.
Three-month precipitation outlook for October–December 2021, showing the probability (percent chance) of above-normal, below-normal, or near-normal conditions. Source: NOAA Climate Prediction Center.

For More Information

NIDIS and its partners will issue future drought updates as conditions evolve.

More local information is available from the following resources:

Prepared By

Joel Lisonbee
NOAA/National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS)

Gary McManus
Oklahoma State Climatologist, Oklahoma Mesonet, Oklahoma Climatological Survey

Mary Knapp and Chip Redmond
Kansas State University

John Nielsen-Gammon
Texas State Climatologist, Texas A&M University

Cait Rottler
USDA Southern Plains Climate Hub

Clay Pope
CSP, LLC/USDA Southern Plains Climate Hub

Special Thanks

This drought early warning update is issued in partnership between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the offices of the state climatologist for Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Kansas. The purpose of the update is to communicate a potential area of concern for drought expansion and/or development within the Southern Plains based on recent conditions and the upcoming forecast. NIDIS and its partners will issue future drought updates as conditions evolve.