Prepare for more drought in the West and flooding in the East, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association’s spring outlook report. Most of the western half of the country is already in moderate to exceptional drought conditions, which, unfortunately, is likely to expand into the most significant spring drought since 2013. The drought could impact about 74 million people.

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A U.S. map showing drought predictions.

“The Southwest U.S., which is already experiencing widespread severe to exceptional drought, will remain the hardest hit region in the U.S., and water supply will continue to be a concern this spring in these drought-affected areas,” said Mary Erickson, deputy director of the National Weather Service. “This is a major change from recent years where millions were impacted by severe flooding. Nonetheless, NOAA’s forecasts and outlooks will continue to serve as a resource for emergency managers and community decision-makers as they navigate all potential extreme seasonal weather and water events.”

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Why so dry? The failed 2020 summer monsoon, low soil moisture and warmer than usual temperatures are all reasons cited by the NOAA. Southern Florida and the southern and central Great Plains will see increased drought conditions. If there’s not enough spring rain, the northern Plains could also see its existing drought worsen.

A U.S. map showing flood predictions.

As for flooding, the NOAA isn’t predicting major or prolonged flooding. But a lot of minor to moderate floods will likely hit the coastal plain of the Carolinas and the Lower Missouri and Lower Ohio River basins. Many Midwestern streams are swollen from late-winter rainfall. NOAA publishes seasonal outlooks to help people prepare for what’s in store. 

“Our national hydrologic assessment helps to inform the nation where there will likely be too much or too little water. This spring, we anticipate a reduced risk for flooding, and forecast significantly below average water supply where impacts due to low flow contribute to the continued drought,” said Ed Clark, director of NOAA’s National Water Center in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. 


Lead image via Pixabay

Additional images via NOAA