12 June 2014 (NOAA) – Parts of the West, especially the southern portions, have been in drought for the last several years, with the PHDI reaching record or near-record low values at times. Time series of precipitation departure show the variation over time (New Mexico, California), while maps of the SPEI show the spatial extent (36-month SPEI, 48-month SPEI) of the long-term dryness. The May 2014 PHDI has surpassed the lowest values reached during the 1976-77 drought of record for parts of California — the Central Coast Drainage (climate division 4), the San Joaquin Drainage (climate division 5), and the South Coast Drainage (climate division 6). Some of these analyses show a disturbing trend toward more extreme droughts over the last 40 years in California.
In the Southern Plains, the summer of 2013 was a wet reprieve for such states as Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. The 2012 rainy season was, and now the 2014 rainy season is, much drier than normal for these states, with the dryness extending further back in time for some of them.