High Plains

Map released: Thurs. March 15, 2018
Data valid: March 13, 2018 at 8 a.m. EDT


  • None
  • D0 (Abnormally Dry)
  • D1 (Moderate Drought)
  • D2 (Severe Drought)
  • D3 (Extreme Drought)
  • D4 (Exceptional Drought)


The Drought Monitor focuses on broad-scale conditions. Local conditions may vary. See accompanying text summary for forecast statements.

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High Plains Drought Summary

Drought persisted or worsened from Kansas, central Oklahoma, and eastern Texas westward into Colorado and New Mexico. Drought intensity was degraded in many areas, with Exceptional Drought (D4) introduced in a patch of northern Oklahoma east of the Panhandle. Extreme (D3) drought now covers a large swath across northeastern New Mexico, most of the Panhandle and adjacent areas in Texas, western Oklahoma, south-central and southwestern Kansas, and southeastern Colorado. The last 5 months have been intensely dry from southern Kansas and adjacent Colorado southward through western Oklahoma, parts of northeastern New Mexico, and the Texas Panhandle. Most of this area has recorded only 0.05 to a few tenths of an inch of precipitation since early October, and impacts have steadily intensified. Winter wheat is struggling to grow, even in irrigated fields, and many crops planted after the early October rains never germinated. According to the National Agricultural Statistics Service, a large proportion of the winter wheat crop in several states is in poor or very poor condition, including 74 percent of the crop in New Mexico, 72 percent in Oklahoma, 53 percent in both Kansas and Texas, and 27 percent in Colorado. In addition, significant proportions of several other crops in Oklahoma are in poor or very poor conditions, specifically 60 percent of canola, 59 percent of rye, and 54 percent of oats. Texas oats are also suffering from the dryness, with 38 percent in poor or very poor condition. 38 percent of Texas oats are in poor or very poor.

The lack of rain has been accompanied by low humidity and strong winds at times, enhancing wildfire danger and causing some soil erosion. Many ponds and reservoirs are low, and some shallow wells have dried up.

The Governor of Kansas declared a drought watch in northern and eastern counties, drought emergencies in south-central and southwest counties, and drought warnings in the remaining areas.

Farther north, dryness and drought eased somewhat in northeastern Montana and remained mostly unchanged farther east, though some D2 expansion was introduced in southwestern North Dakota.

The winter wheat crop here has been affected by the dryness, but not to the degree observed in the southern Plains. South Dakota reports32 percent of its crop in poor or very poor condition, as are 18 percent of the North Dakota winter wheat crop.

Read the full drought summary