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Southern Plains Drought Update - June 27, 2018

Drought Easing but Extreme Drought Lingers in Southern Plains. Robust Monsoon Anticipated.

  • Drought peaked in May in northwest Oklahoma and the Texas and Oklahoma Panhandles. Plentiful June rain in these areas is easing drought impacts, but areas that failed to get heavy rains are still in extreme drought.
  • Drought may be peaking now in New Mexico and Colorado.
  • Outlook favors robust monsoon precipitation setting in around 6-9 July with an almost 80% chance of El Niño, which should diminish chances for a snow drought this winter.


  • Precipitation from October through March was significantly less than normal. Major cities in the region had their longest streak of consecutive days without measurable precipitation in 50 years. Drought peaked in May in Oklahoma and Texas and is likely peaking now in New Mexico and Colorado. Plentiful (150% of normal) June rainfall in most areas of the Texas/Oklahoma Panhandles and northwest Oklahoma eased some drought concerns.
  • Temperatures from October through March were the warmest on record for New Mexico and fourth warmest on record for Colorado. Kansas, Texas, and Oklahoma were in the warmest 20%. May and June saw temperatures of 2 to 6 degrees (F) above average across the region.


  • The winter wheat crop is already harvested, with very poor yields. The main agricultural crop of concern at this time is the cotton crop in Texas and Oklahoma.
  • Supplemental feeding was necessary in some locations due to drought impacts on pastureland. Recent rains in the Panhandle improved rangelands, and supplemental feeding has ceased.


  • Precipitation: Near-normal to above-normal rainfall in the region is anticipated for July and August. Normal rainfall would avert the impacts of long-term drought. The seasonal outlook sees drought improvement or elimination by the end of September. An “El Niño Watch” for late fall and winter bodes well for precipitation, which should greatly diminish the chances for another snow drought this cold season.
  • Temperatures: There is a strong tilt toward above-normal temperatures over the next three months.

About this status update
This drought status report was developed from a webinar presented on 27 June 2018 by Victor Murphy, Climate Services Program Manager, National Weather Service, Southern Region. The next Southern Plains Drought Status Update will be issued as conditions evolve. Drought and Climate Outlook Webinars are offered for regional Drought Early Warning Systems. More information can be found on the webinar and events calendar.