Drought: Parched Great Plains Still Bone Dry
The Northeast: Status quo is the word this week as an unseasonably warm and dry weather pattern persisted, leading to no changes on the map.
Mid Atlantic: Most of the Mid Atlantic saw very beneficial rains on the order of 1 to 5 inches across eastern West Virginia, western and southern Virginia and the western Carolinas. They couldn’t have come at a better time given the low-demand season and receptive soils. Longer-term streamflow averages are beginning to respond in kind. These factors led to sweeping 1-category improvements and a substantial reduction of drought across the region, particularly in Virginia and western North Carolina.
The Southeast: The Southeast also shared in the warmth last week with Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia seeing rains as well, although not as widespread as what was observed next door in the Mid Atlantic. The rains in southeast Alabama, northern Georgia and eastern Tennessee were enough to remove the D0 in Tennessee and reduce the drought’s intensity with 1-category improvement in southeast Alabama and northern Georgia. The lingering dryness is still cause for concern, especially in the southern and coastal regions of South Carolina and Georgia. The rains and resultant improvement carried over into upstate South Carolina with a reduction of drought on its western flank where rains of 2 to 4 inches prevailed. Continued drier than normal dry season conditions in Florida has also led to some slight expansion of D0 to include all of the Florida Panhandle as well as the southern peninsula counties.
The South: Very little of the wet stuff fell across the entire South, leading to mostly status quo with some slight expansion of D3 in northeastern Oklahoma and extreme southeastern Kansas. There was also a gentle nudging east of the D3 in north-central Texas. Cooler temperatures and continued assessment of last week’s rain led to some more 1-category improvement of the drought across western and northern Arkansas. This also spilled over into the Bootheel region of Missouri, with improvement being noted there as well.
Midwest: The rains of two weeks ago led to some more carryover improvement in Ohio, Indiana and Illinois where D1 was removed from Ohio, D0 was eliminated from southern Indiana and reduced in northern counties, and D0 was removed from east-central Illinois.
The Plains: Most of the Plains states experienced above-normal temperatures, but were bone dry as well. Aside from the slight expansion of D3 in southeastern Kansas noted earlier, the rest of the region remains in a holding pattern as we push toward spring.
The West: The lack of snow continues to heighten concern across much of the West. While there is plenty of time to make up ground, last year’s low pack across the central and southern Rockies in particular has several interests watching closely to see if a strong finish to winter can bring about more promising streamflow forecasts for the dry season come summer. This leads to mostly status quo as far as changes are concerned for this week’s map. Some slight deterioration is noted this week with the addition of D0 in northwestern Montana around Glacier National Park and to the west into the Idaho Panhandle in and around the Bitterroots. D0 has also expanded slightly across more of southwestern Idaho in the Clearwater and Salmon River Mountain ranges as well as into northeastern Oregon’s Wallowa and Blue Mountains.
Hawaii, Alaska, and Puerto Rico: Improvements continued on Kauai and the Big Island (South Point region) over the past week as beneficial rainfall has brought steady improvement to the pastures and native vegetation, particularly in the higher elevations.
Conditions in Alaska and on Puerto Rico remain unchanged from last week.
Looking Ahead: The NWS HPC 5-Day forecasts show a good shot of well above normal warmth (6 to 12 degrees) filtering across the Southwest, the Intermountain West and the entire Rocky Mountain chain from border to border, along with the southern Plains and Gulf Coast region sharing in the warmth. Cooler temperatures are expected in the Great Lakes region and eastern seaboard. As for precipitation during the next five days, the best chances appear to be in the Southwest centered over Arizona and along the West Coast as well as the Tennessee Valley and Mid Atlantic.
The CPC 6–10 day outlook (Jan. 29 thru Feb. 2) calls for a greater likelihood of below-normal temperatures across the Alaskan interior, the northern Plains and the Upper Midwest/Great Lakes regions, with above-normal temperatures most likely being confined to the Gulf Coast and Carolina coastal counties. Precipitation is looking promising for most folks east of the Mississippi River while the Southwest/Intermountain West along with California and Oregon look to be below normal during this time frame.