Alabama Flash Drought

UPDATE: SE Drought is Slowly Receding (more info below)

What is a “Flash” Drought?

A flash drought is the rapid onset of drought. While conventional drought is mainly driven by a lack of precipitation, flash drought is often caused by a combination of abnormally high temperatures, winds, and/or incoming radiation that leads to abnormally high evapotranspiration rates (read more).  After enduring one of the hottest and driest Septembers on record, Alabama and the vast majority of the Southeast are currently in flash drought conditions.

Flash droughts can have extreme agricultural impacts, particularly due to their characteristic rapid onset that increases the difficulty of forecasting their development.  A study called, Flash Drought Characteristics Based on U.S. Drought Monitor” was conducted by NOAA, the National Weather Service (NWS), and the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) Climate Prediction Center to investigate how to better predict flash drought development.

U.S. Drought Monitor

The USDM was released on October 3, 2019.

The United States Drought Monitor (USDM) is a map released weekly, detailing the areas of the U.S. that are in drought.  The map has 5 classifications:

  • DO (Abnormally Dry) – areas that may be going into or are coming out of drought
  • D1 (Moderate Drought)
  • D2 (Severe Drought)
  • D3 (Extreme Drought)
  • D4 (Exceptional Drought)
  • Read more about USDM classifications.

Check out the Alabama USDM Map for weekly updates.

NEW Alabama Extension Website for Drought Resources

Visit for information on dealing with drought. For additional information, or questions not addressed on the website, contact your local Extension office. The office can direct you to the appropriate person to address your needs.

UPDATE: Southeast Drought Receding

After several weeks of precipitation and cooler temperatures since the third week of October, the flash drought in the Southeast is slowly receding:

Much of the Southeast has seen a 1-2 US Drought Monitor Class Improvement in the month since October 8, 2019 with some localized areas in Georgia, North Carolina, and Virginia seeing an impressive 3 Class Improvement in the same time period.
Most of the Southeast is predicted to experience drought removal in the coming three month period through the end of January 2020.

Upcoming Drought Webinars

ACF River Basin Drought Webinar

The Auburn University Water Resources Center hosts a monthly webinar called the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin Drought Assessment Webinar. The webinar occurs the 2nd Tuesday of each month at 12(noon) Central/ 1pm Eastern and occurs biweekly when the region is in drought.

Southeast Drought Update Webinar

A special webinar was held October 10th courtesy of the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS). Watch the webinar recording.

A followup special webinar was held November 7th for the Southeast. Watch the webinar recording.