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 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 www.alabamadrought.com 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:
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 followup special webinar was held November 7th for the Southeast. Watch the webinar recording.