Drought: 1,369 Counties Named Disaster Areas
The following Drought Monitor information is provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture:
Weather Summary: A strong upper-level ridge of high pressure continued to dominate the nation’s weather this U.S. Drought Monitor (USDM) week, bringing well above-normal temperatures to much of the country east of the Rockies. Beneath the core of the high, hot and dry weather baked the central and southern Plains to Ohio Valley.
Monsoon showers and thunderstorms brought areas of rain to the West, cool fronts moving along the high’s northern edge triggered scattered showers and thunderstorms in the northern tier states, and a front skirting the high dropped beneficial rain along its eastern and southern peripheries.
July 22 U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports indicated that 55 percent of the nation’s pasture and rangeland was in poor to very poor condition, breaking last week’s record. In the Plains and Midwest states, crop losses mounted, ranchers liquidated herds, and trees continued to drop leaves and branches. On July 25, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack designated 76 additional counties in six states as drought disaster areas, bringing the total for the 2012 crop year to 1,369 counties across 31 states. Over two dozen large wildfires were burning by the end of the USDM week – most in the West but several in the Plains.
Looking Ahead: Forecast models for July 25-30 show a front piercing the upper-level high early in the period, bringing scattered showers and thunderstorms to Great Plains and Midwest core drought area. Rainfall amounts may reach an inch in places, with a few locations receiving possibly 2 or more inches. The heaviest amounts from the front and low pressure system are expected to be in the Upper Great Lakes and Northeast, where locally 3 inches or more of rain may fall.
Parts of the South could see an inch or more of rain as the front makes its way to the Gulf Coast. Monsoon showers could drop up to an inch of rain, total, across the Four Corners states, and frontal rains in the Northern Rockies could bring scattered light showers, but the rest of the West should be dry. Temperatures may dip from the frontal passage, but the week should average warmer than normal for most of the country.
For July 31-Aug. 8, dry weather is expected to dominate from the West Coast to Northern Rockies, and from the Central to Southern Plains. Above-normal precipitation is forecast for the Southwest and from the Upper Mississippi Valley to Ohio Valley, parts of the Southeast, and from the Mid-Atlantic states to coastal Northeast.
Above-normal temperatures are expected for much of the country, especially the Rockies and Plains states, while below-normal temperatures may hug the West Coast. Western Alaska is forecast to be wetter than normal, northern Alaska warmer than normal, and the southern areas cooler than normal.