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Regional Drought Update Date
February 10, 2022
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Drought Status Update

Southern Plains Drought Status Update


DEWS Regions:
Update Status:

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

Extreme drought persists in Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Kansas.

Drought is likely to continue into spring.

Key Points

  • Extreme drought (D3) has developed over parts of Texas, Oklahoma, and southwest Kansas, with exceptional drought (D4) in Oklahoma and New Mexico.
  • Above-normal fire risk is in place for drought-stricken regions of the Southern Plains. 
  • Recent precipitation did little to alleviate drought in the Oklahoma and Texas panhandles and eastern New Mexico.
Current Conditions
U.S. Drought Monitor Conditions: Southern Plains | February 8, 2022

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 the Southern Plains Drought Early Warning System as of February 8, 2022.

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%
of Kansas is in extreme (D3) drought
30%
of New Mexico is in extreme (D3) drought
48%
of Oklahoma is in extreme (D3) drought
24%
of Texas is in extreme (D3) drought

Current Drought Conditions and Outlook

U.S. Drought Monitor Conditions

  • 81% of the region is in drought (D1 or worse).
  • 28% of the region is experiencing extreme (D3) drought.
  • Extreme (D3) drought conditions have been in place in this region since August 2019.
  • Moderate (D1) or worse drought has been in the region since June 2016.

Drought Development Over the Past Month

U.S. Drought Monitor Change Map for Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas, showing the change in drought conditions from January 11 to February 8, 2022.  Drought has improved over central and eastern Texas, worsened for southern texas and the Oklahoma panhandle with little change elsewhere as drought conditions have been in place for nearly two months.
Four-week U.S. Drought Monitor change map, showing where drought has improved, remained the same, or worsened from January 11 to February 8, 2022. Source: National Drought Mitigation Center.

Recent Precipitation

  • January and February are usually the driest months of the year in the Southern Plains, and precipitation has been lower than normal this winter.
  • State-averaged precipitation anomalies for January for the Southern Plains states are as follows:
    • Kansas: -0.36 inches
    • Oklahoma: -0.6 inches
    • Texas: -0.67 inches
    • New Mexico: -0.3 inches
  • Storms in early February brought some welcome precipitation to central Texas and eastern Oklahoma, but many areas missed out. 

February Month to Date Precipitation

 map of Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas showing percent of normal precipitation for the month-to-date as of February 10, 2022. Only central Texas and far southern coastal Texas have seen above-normal precipitation.
Month-to-date percent of normal precipitation for the Southern Plains, through February 10, 2022. Source: National Weather Service (NWS) Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service (AHPS).

Forecasts and Seasonal Outlooks

  • Fire risk is elevated for drought-stricken areas of the Southern Plains.
  • Elevated fire risk is forecast to persist through spring.

Significant Wildland Fire Potential Outlook: February 2022

Significant Wildland Fire Potential Outlook for February 2022, which shows elevated fire potential for parts of Texas, western Oklahoma and Kansas, and eastern New Mexico.
Significant Wildland Potential Outlook for February 2022. Above-normal indicates a greater than usual likelihood of significant fires. Source: National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) Predictive Services.

3-Month Outlook for Winter (February–April 2022)

  • Odds favor above-normal temperatures for the southern U.S., including New Mexico and parts of Arizona, Colorado, and Utah.
  • Odds favor below-normal precipitation for the southwest U.S., including southern Utah and southern Colorado.

Three-Month Precipitation Outlook: February–April 2022

Climate Prediction Center three-month precipitation outlook for February–April 2022, showing the probability of above-normal, below-normal, or near-normal conditions.   Odds favor below normal precipitation for the southwestern U.S.
Three-month precipitation outlook for February–April 2022, showing the probability (percent chance) of above-normal, below-normal, or near-normal conditions. Source: NOAA Climate Prediction Center.

Three-Month Temperature Outlook: February–April 2022

Climate Prediction Center 3-month temperature outlook, valid for February–April 2022. Odds favor above normal temperatures for the southern US, including New Mexico and parts of Arizona.
Three-month temperature outlook for February–April 2022, showing the probability (percent chance) of above-normal, below-normal, or near-normal conditions. Source: NOAA Climate Prediction Center.

Seasonal Drought Outlook

  • Drought is expected to continue for the Southern Plains through spring.
  • The Climate Prediction Center's 3-month drought outlook shows drought remaining for all but northeastern Texas, much of Oklahoma, western Kansas, and northern Louisiana.
  • Drought development is likely across central Texas, except for those areas receiving heavy rainfall in early February after the outlook was released.

February–April 2022 Drought Outlook

Climate Prediction Center's seasonal drought outlook, predicting where drought is likely to worsen, improve, or remain the same from February 1 to April 30, 2022. Current drought conditions over the western U.S. are forecast to persist.
U.S. seasonal drought outlook, predicting where drought is likely to persist, improve, develop, or be removed from February 1–April 30, 2022. Valid January 31, 2022. Source: NOAA Climate Prediction Center.

La Niña to Continue into Spring

  • One of the primary drivers of drought across the Southwest this season was a La Niña pattern in the Pacific.
  • Current forecasts suggest La Niña will continue into the spring, dissipating around April.
  • Spring precipitation across the Southern Plains is usually lower than normal in the seasons when La Niña is winding down. 
  • For more information, please check out the NOAA El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) blog.

Sea Surface Temperature Anomalies (°C) for January 24–30, 2022

Map of the Pacific Ocean showing sea surface temperature anomalies (in degrees Celsius) for January 24-30, 2022. Blue shading in the equatorial pacific indicates cooler water temperatures consistent with a La Niña pattern.
Sea surface temperature anomalies for the Pacific Ocean for January 24–30, 2022. Blue shading in the equatorial Pacific indicates cooler water temperatures consistent with a La Niña pattern. Source: Australian Bureau of Meteorology.

Risk of Wet/Dry Extremes in February–April During La Niña

Risk of wet or dry extremes from the historical composite of February through April La Ninas or the continental U.S. Extreme dry conditions are likely for much of the Southwest and Florida.
February–March–April (FMA) rainfall pattern when averaged over historical La Niña events, showing the risk of wet and dry extremes in FMA during La Niña. Source: NOAA Physical Sciences Laboratory.

Probability of El Niño, La Niña, or Neutral Conditions

Bar graph showing probability of the three primary ENSO states at 3-month intervals from December-January-February to August-September-October 2022. Odds favor La Niña to continue until May.
ENSO forecasts from the International Research Institute, showing the probability of El Niño, La Niña, or neutral conditions from December 2021 to October 2022. Source: International Research Institute

State-Based Conditions and Impacts

Kansas

  • Drought and the December 15 wind event have decimated the wheat crop in the southwest with poor conditions and/or no stands remaining. 
  • Despite some recent moisture improving conditions in areas of the east/west, record warm temperatures since August with large precipitation deficits continue long-term drought.
  • Several large fires have occurred in recent weeks, with fire weather variables at or over the 90th percentile for much of central/east Kansas. 

120-Day Departure from Normal Precipitation

120-day departure from normal precipitation across Kansas, as of February 10, 2022.
Departure from normal precipitation over the last 120 days, as of February 10, 2022. Source: Kansas Mesonet and National Weather Service.

Oklahoma

  • Nearly all of the state received beneficial moisture from the winter storm on February 1–3, but the highest totals were confined to far-eastern Oklahoma.
  • Long-term deficits have stressed Oklahoma’s winter wheat crop, with many areas seeing a profound lack of wheat pasture for grazing impacting Oklahoma’s livestock producers.
  • Wildfires continue to be a concern, with 22 of Oklahoma’s 77 counties under a burn ban.

Oklahoma State and County Burn Ban Status

Oklahoma Forestry Service's Oklahoma burn ban map as of Feb. 8, 2022. 22 counties are under a burn ban.
Oklahoma burn ban map, as of February 8, 2022. Source: Oklahoma Forestry Services.

Texas

  • The early February winter storm was beneficial for central and coastal portions of Texas.
  • Elsewhere, the winter wheat crop and winter forage are having difficulty, and rainfall is needed in some areas to support spring planting.
  • If dry weather persists in west Texas, there will be an elevated threat of spring wildfires.

County Precipitation/Temperature Rankings: August–January

Two maps of Texas showing average temperature and precipitation rankings by county for August 2021 to January 2022.
Average temperature (left) and precipitation (right) rankings for August 2021–January 2022 by county. Seven counties in west Texas experienced their warmest and driest August–January on record. Source: NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information, Climate at a Glance.

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

Chip Redmond
Kansas State University

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

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.