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Drought conditions eased during month of October

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

According to the National Drought Mitigation Center’s (NDMC) Drought Climate Summary for October 2023, dated Nov. 7, drought eased across most of the U.S. with regional variation. 

The summary outlines drought improvements, which were evident across Oklahoma and Texas, with some improvements occurring in the Midwest – Wisconsin, Minnesota and northern Nebraska saw multiple category improvements. 

North Dakota, northern Montana and portions of Washington and Oregon also saw single or multiple category improvements, according to the report. 

“Overall, moderate or worse drought coverage dropped from 32.1 to 30.68 percent. Severe or worse drought coverage decreased from 18.79 to 17.65 percent. Extreme or worse drought coverage declined from 8.48 to 6.62 percent, and exceptional drought coverage dipped from 2.35 to 1.82 percent.,” NDMC explains. 

The High Plains 

During the month of October, most of the High Plains region saw above-normal precipitation and overall drought conditions decreased.

The NDMC notes a large area spanning the Nebraska-South Dakota border, into northern and central Wyoming, saw wetter-than-normal weather, with some areas receiving at least twice their normal amount for the month. 

While certain areas in the Rocky Mountains of central Colorado also saw above-normal precipitation, the southern potion of the state didn’t fare as well, with many areas receiving less than half of their normal October precipitation. 

According to the NDMC, moderate or worse drought coverage dropped from 26.84 to 21.82 percent, severe or worse drought coverage dipped from 15.07 to 11.56 percent, extreme or worse drought coverage decreased from 5.46 to 2.87 percent and exceptional drought coverage dropped from 0.97 to 0.71 percent. 

The West

Conversely, several areas in the West experienced drier-than-normal conditions throughout the month of October. 

In fact, parts of western Washington, northern Idaho and Montana were much drier than usual – receiving only one-half or less of their normal precipitation for the month. 

There were, however, a few localized areas in Utah, southeast Idaho and northeast Oregon, in addition to most of central and eastern Montana, with wetter-than-normal conditions. 

The NDMC notes drought coverage did not change substantially across the West during October, with moderate or worse drought coverage dropping from 31.24 to 30.63 percent and severe or worse drought coverage dropping from 17.7 to 17.65 percent. 

Additionally, extreme or worse drought coverage decreased from 6.09 to 5.18 percent, while exceptional drought coverage increased from 0.7 to 0.76 percent. 

November forecast

According to the National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center, several locations will see drought condition improvements, and possibly removal, during the month of November. 

This includes improvement in western Washington and Oregon, isolated improvement or removal in parts of central and northeast Wisconsin and some areas in Minnesota and improvement or removal across a narrow strip covering Wichita, Kan., Kansas City, west-central Illinois, western Kentucky and southern Indiana. 

“Parts of central and northeast Texas, as well as adjacent southeast Oklahoma, are forecast to experience more widespread drought improvement or removal,” the NDMC explains. “Drought improvement or removal is also forecast on St. Thomas and St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands and in northern Puerto Rico.” 

Hannah Bugas is the managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to

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