Weather tracker: ‘triple-dip’ La Niña heightens drought in US

Up to 60% of country in designated drought zone, as jet stream heats up parts of Europe

The US drought monitor declared 60% of the country to be in a designated drought zone last Thursday, with 34% in a severe or deepening drought. Although such conditions are not unusual in the US, with approximately 14% of the country having experienced severe to extreme drought every year since 1895, the extent of the current situation certainly is.

Western states and parts of the Great Plains are experiencing the most severe droughts in the country. Some central states including Minnesota and Iowa have recorded less than 25mm of rain in the past month, compared with an average of 70-100mm in September.

Such little rainfall after a warmer than average July to September has caused parts of the Mississippi River to resemble a creek. At the same time, wildfires have been raging in Washington, Oregon and New Mexico, spanning a total of more than 200,000 hectares.

The driving force behind this worsening drought is a rare “triple-dip” La Niña winter – or three consecutive La Niña winters. The weather phenomenon is known for its large-scale cooling of sea surface temperatures, resulting in colder and drier conditions in the eastern Pacific that amplify the risk of drought and wildfires in the US during winter.

There is a near 50% chance of more neutral conditions from February to April, bringing total rainfall closer to the average.

Meanwhile, temperatures in Europe are forecast to climb this week as warm air from as far south as the Sahara pushes north across western Europe via a powerful jet stream.

This airmass will bring exceptionally warm – and in some cases hot – conditions, and many places once more will experience rising temperatures, generally about 9C above average for the time of year.

Bordeaux in France is expected to climb to the high 20s Celsius, nearly 11C above the average daytime temperature in late October, and remaining in the high teens overnight.

The summery feel will fade heading into November as temperatures tumble to the seasonal norm.

James Parrish for MetDesk

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Weather tracker: drought declared in England after driest July since 1935
Long-term forecasts indicate dry conditions will prevail across south and east through autumn

Matt Andrews for MetDesk

15, Aug, 2022 @10:08 AM

Article image
Weather tracker: Nigeria flooding and US blows hot and cold
Authorities partly blamed after months of deadly flooding in African nation; jet stream causes temperature divide in US

Nicholas Lee for MetDesk

21, Oct, 2022 @8:00 AM

Article image
Weather tracker: Spain’s spring heatwave breaks April records
Maximum temperature at Córdoba of 38.7C is highest April temperature ever recorded in Europe

Tom Tobler and James Parrish for MetDesk

28, Apr, 2023 @8:24 AM

Article image
Weather tracker: unseasonably warm October across Europe breaks records
Above-average temperatures across northern hemisphere came amid an extremely warm year for Britain

Matt Andrews for MetDesk

07, Nov, 2022 @9:38 AM

Article image
Weather tracker: heat dome raises temperatures in Spain and Portugal
Phenomenon is forecast to expand as it strengthens, triggering conditions of more than 30C in parts of Europe

Lauren Herdman for MetDesk

10, Jul, 2023 @9:49 AM

Article image
Weather tracker: deadly floods in South Korea and drought in China
While Seoul experienced torrential downpours, rainfall levels are down in China’s Yangtse River basin

Azure Prior for MetDesk

12, Aug, 2022 @7:00 AM

Article image
Weather tracker: a week of unusual highs and lows for Europe
While Mediterranean countries basked in unseasonal warmth, parts of northern Europe were in the grip of premature cold

Tom Tobler (Metdesk)

21, Nov, 2022 @10:04 PM

Article image
Weather tracker: heatwave grips parts of Asia and heavy snow hits Scandinavia
Record heat in Thailand and Laos is forecast to ease this week as snow sweeps Norway and Sweden

Tom Tobler for the MetDesk

24, Apr, 2023 @10:51 AM

Article image
Weather tracker: Storm Hilary brings floods to US west coast and inland
Several landlocked states including Nevada and Idaho see highest rainfall totals from a tropical storm since 1900

Azure Prior for MetDesk

25, Aug, 2023 @9:36 AM

Article image
Weather tracker: Nasa confirms world’s hottest July despite UK downpours
Global temperature was warmest on record last month as Britain faced cloudy and wet conditions

James Parrish and James Ripley

18, Aug, 2023 @8:33 AM