Report: ‘Abnormal Dryness’ Begins in Midwest

August 22, 2013 by · Comments Off on Report: ‘Abnormal Dryness’ Begins in Midwest 

Summary: This U.S. Drought Monitor week was dominated by a persistent weather system that dumped precipitation in the South and Southeast over multiple days. Radar estimates go as high as 10+ inches in one location in eastern Louisiana. The High and Southern Plains also benefitted from precipitation, from southern South Dakota down into Texas while areas of the West and Midwest remained dry.

The East: The eastern U.S. remains drought free again this week.

The South and Southern Plains: Beneficial rains fell again this week across portions of northern Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Arkansas, leading to improvements in drought conditions in western and central Kansas, western and central Oklahoma, the Panhandle of Texas, south-central Arkansas, and eastern Louisiana. Conversely, Extreme (D3), Severe (D2) and Moderate Drought (D1) expanded in Texas and northern Louisiana and Abnormal Dryness (D0) expanded in Louisiana and southern Arkansas.

The Central and Northern Plains: Beneficial rainfall continues to improve drought conditions in western and southern South Dakota, where Moderate Drought (D1) and Abnormal Dryness (D0) have abated, and in northern Nebraska where Extreme Drought (D3) was reduced. Conversely, eastern parts of Iowa and South Dakota have seen less precipitation than normal and Abnormal Dryness (D0) has expanded there.

The Midwest: Lack of recent precipitation is beginning to be felt throughout the region. Abnormal Dryness (D0) expanded across eastern Illinois and into western Indiana, in northern Michigan, and across most of Minnesota and parts of Wisconsin. Likewise, Moderate Drought (D1) expanded in Minnesota and northern Wisconsin. Cooler temperatures have helped abate the lack of moisture lately but that could be changing as above-normal temperatures are expected in the area over the next two weeks.

The West: Conditions continue to degrade in the northern sections of the West. Idaho, western Montana, and northern Utah experienced an expansion of Severe Drought (D2) and western Montana saw an expansion of Moderate Drought (D1). Some of this area has experienced low precipitation for over a year with wildfire activity increasing as of late. Conversely, conditions continue to improve slightly in eastern New Mexico, which experienced a decrease of Exceptional (D4), Extreme (D3), and Severe Drought (D2), eastern Colorado where Extreme (D3) and Severe Drought (D2) conditions eased, and eastern Wyoming where Severe (D2) and Moderate Drought (D1) and Abnormal Dryness (D0) abated.

Wildfires remain a problem in parts of the West. The National Interagency Fire Center reported 51 active, large wildfires on Aug. 20, up from last week. Large fires continue to 10 western states including Idaho, where the Elk Fire has consumed over 130,000 acres of vegetation, an increase of over 30,000 acres this week. According to numerous sources, the cost of battling wildfires in 2013 has now exceeded $1 billion.

Hawaii, Alaska and Puerto Rico: Beneficial rains on the eastern tip of the Big Island of Hawaii have proven sufficient to meet agricultural needs in the area. Abnormal Dryness (D0) was removed from the area. Drought continues to expand in southern Alaska with expansion of Severe (D2) and Moderate Drought (D1). Agricultural impacts are being felt in the area as soils dry and temperatures remain above normal. Puerto Rico remains drought free.

Looking Ahead: During the Aug. 22-26 time period, there is an above-normal chance for precipitation mainly in the Southeast, the extreme Southern Plains and the Southwest. Temperatures are expected to be above-normal across the northern part of the country from Montana through New England and below-normal on both the East and West coasts.

For the ensuing five days (Aug. 27-31), the odds favor normal to above-normal temperatures across the entire contiguous U.S., as well as across southern Alaska. Below-normal temperatures are favored only in northern Alaska. Above normal-precipitation is likely across the northern half of the country from Maine to eastern Oregon and over most of Alaska. Below-normal precipitation is expected in the Southern Plains and the Pacific Northwest, as well as in northern Alaska.


Rainfall Headed to Parched Four Corners Area

July 18, 2013 by · Comments Off on Rainfall Headed to Parched Four Corners Area 

Weather Summary: A broad upper-level ridge extended across the contiguous United States during this U.S. Drought Monitor week. A cold front moving through the ridge brought showers to parts of the northern Plains and Midwest, while a closed low retrograded beneath the ridge late in the week, dropping locally heavy rains as it trekked from the Mid-Atlantic to Southern Plains. Moisture from the low enhanced monsoon showers over the Southwest, while the rest of the West was dry. Temperatures were above normal except where depressed by frontal showers or the retrograding low.

Looking Ahead: During the next six days (July 17-22), a stationary front draped across the central Plains to Mid-Atlantic may bring up to an inch of rain from eastern Nebraska to the East Coast, Great Lakes and Gulf of Mexico Coast, with over 2 inches possible along the Mid-Mississippi to Ohio and Tennessee valleys. Monsoon showers could bring an inch or more of rain to the Four Corners states. Less than a quarter of an inch of rain is forecast for Oklahoma and adjoining parts of Texas, with most of the West expected to be dry. Temperatures should be near to above normal, with the warmest anomalies (6-12 degrees above normal) expected in parts of the West.

The NWS 6-10 day and 8-14 day forecasts (for July 23-31) show the highest likelihood of above-normal precipitation for the Southwest and much of the country east of the Mississippi, with below-normal precipitation from the Northwest to the Central and Southern Plains. The Northeast may expect cooler-than-normal temperatures with the highest likelihood of above-normal temperatures from the West to Great Plains. The southern two-thirds of Alaska should be warmer and drier than normal with the north cooler and wetter than normal.

Drought: Oregon Wildfire Threat A Big Concern

March 28, 2013 by · Comments Off on Drought: Oregon Wildfire Threat A Big Concern 

Weather Summary: During the past week, heavy precipitation (2 inches or greater) fell over much of the Southeast, portions of the Pacific Northwest coastal ranges and Cascades and the California Sierras.

Moderate precipitation (0.5-2.0 inches) was widespread across the Northeast and mid-Atlantic regions, the Ohio Valley, the central Mississippi Valley, parts of the central Great Plains, the northern Rockies, the Northwest and northern California.

Light precipitation (up to a half-inch) was reported elsewhere in the contiguous U.S., and little if any precipitation was observed across the Southwest. Storm activity initially affected the East, followed by several storm systems which moved across the West, the southern Great Plains, the southeastern and Mid-Atlantic States, and ultimately parts of the Northeast. Several inches of snow accumulated in the Washington, D.C., area on Monday, March 25, which is unusually late in the season for such an event.

The Northeast and Mid-Atlantic: About a half-inch of precipitation fell over the drought areas in the Northeast, which was enough to offset additional degradation for at least another week. Stream flows are close to normal for much of this region, except for northern Pennsylvania and adjacent portions of New York, where stream flow values are running between the 5th and 10th percentiles of the historical record. No changes were rendered to the drought depiction across this area.

The Southeast: During the past 7-days, the Advanced Hydrologic Prediction System (AHPS) reported moderate to heavy rains (0.5 – 4.5 inches) across Georgia, most of Alabama and South Carolina, and northern and central Florida. This widespread soaking resulted in a 1-category improvement in drought conditions across Georgia, the eastern Panhandle of Florida, and portions of South Carolina. Severe weather (mostly strong winds and large hail) was also reported across the Florida Panhandle over the weekend. In east-central Alabama, the lingering area of abnormal dryness (D0) was removed from Chambers County.

In Georgia, all severe drought (D2) has been removed because of the heavy rainfall. Severe drought has been ongoing across portions of the state since Sept. 21, 2010. As recently as Jan. 29, 2013, 82.4% of Georgia was in severe drought or worse. Since that time, Georgia experienced its wettest February statewide, and March has also been wet. The National Agriculture Statistics Service (NASS) Georgia Field Office reported 4.2 days suitable for fieldwork for the week ending March 24. Statewide Topsoil Moisture was rated as 1%-very short, 2%-short, 58%-adequate, and 39%-surplus. Subsoil Moisture was rated at 1%-very short, 10%-short, 68%-adequate, and 21%-surplus. High temperatures ranged from the low 50s to the low 80s, and nighttime low temperatures ranged from the low 30s to the low 60s.

In eastern North Carolina, a cool and increasingly dry pattern prompted expansion of D0 conditions, and the removal of D0 over the extreme southeastern counties of Brunswick and New Hanover.

The Midwest: Moderate precipitation (0.4-1.0 inch) fell over western and central Missouri and southeastern Iowa during the past week, prompting a reduction in coverage of abnormal dryness (D0). Temperatures continue to be below normal across the region. Missouri is experiencing its coldest March in at least 17 years. For the most part, vegetation remains dormant and evaporative rates have been kept to a minimum. Over the past few weeks, there has been adequate soil moisture infiltration, as opposed to areas farther north where frozen soils exist from several inches to several feet in depth (for example, east-central Iowa and southwestern Wisconsin).

Lower Mississippi Valley/Delta region: Significant precipitation deficits (AHPS PNP values ranging from 50-90 percent of normal rainfall during the past 3 months) have accumulated over northwestern Louisiana. Stream flows in this region are below normal. As a result, D0 conditions were expanded across this area.

The Great Plains: In Texas, another relatively dry week resulted in various small-scale adjustments to the drought depiction. Six-month DNPs (Departure from Normal Precipitation) are on the order of 8-16 inches in much of eastern Texas. In southeastern portions of the Panhandle (Donley County), the Greenbelt Lake reservoir dropped to 12% of capacity. In addition, only about 6 inches of snow accumulated in this region from a recent blizzard, which is not nearly enough to satisfy water supply concerns. In the Oklahoma Panhandle (Cimarron County) the town of Kenton has recorded 100 consecutive days without at least a quarter-inch of precipitation. Cool temperatures have at least helped to offset the impacts from current drought conditions. In Kansas, moderate precipitation (0.5-2.0 inches) supported a 1-category upgrade for northwestern, northeastern and east-central portions of the state. In western and central South Dakota, relatively minor adjustments (both improvement and degradation) were made to the depiction.

The Rockies: In Montana, relatively minor adjustments were made to the depiction, with a slight expansion of abnormal dryness (D0) over southwestern and western portions of the state, which is consistent with relatively light precipitation and slightly below normal stream flows.

Minor improvements were rendered to the drought depiction in eastern and south-central sections of Colorado. These were based on above-average precipitation since March 1st, and also on some improvement in winter wheat conditions. The Upper Colorado River Basin (UCRB) will be monitored over the next few weeks, as this is a critical time for snowpack. Warmer temperatures and low snowfall accumulations could result in quickly deteriorating drought conditions, while colder temperatures and higher snow totals could help in minimizing impacts. No adjustments were made to the drought depiction in this area this week, pending further assessment of peak snowpack timing and melting conditions.

The West: As of March 27, the basin-wide Snow Water Content (SWC) from SNOTEL locations across the West was generally 50% to 75% of average across southern Oregon, northern Nevada and the Sierras, and parts of northern New Mexico, and 75% to 90% of average across much of Colorado, Utah, and southwestern Wyoming. SWC values were near average over much of the interior Northwest and northern Rockies, and 110% to 125% of average over the Washington Cascades.

In southwestern Oregon, abnormal dryness (D0) was expanded to include Josephine, Jackson, and Curry Counties. Despite a wet November and December, precipitation deficits of about 10 inches have mounted over the past 90 days. Crater Lake snowpack is down to 63% of normal, and stream flows are averaging below normal. Medford, Ore., is experiencing its driest (or close to driest) calendar year-to-date so far. One concern in particular is the increased risk of unusually early-in-the-season wildfires.

Northern California has also experienced a significant lack of precipitation this winter, after a wet start to the season. Accordingly, areas not in abnormal dryness or drought in northern California were downgraded to D0 conditions. Should these deficits persist well into the spring, the growth of forage will be hampered, and rangelands will be adversely affected. Reservoirs appear to be in good shape, but spring runoff is expected to be below normal. Temperatures have averaged above-normal so far this month, leading to early irrigation demands.

Hawaii, Alaska, and Puerto Rico: In Hawaii, 1-2 inches of rain fell during this past week across parts of Oahu and Kauai. Between a half-inch and an inch of rain was reported over central Molokai and southern portions of the Big Island. No changes were made to the Hawaiian depiction this week, pending reassessment of conditions next week. In Alaska, the only areas to report a half-inch or greater of precipitation were near Anchorage (from the Kenai Peninsula northward to the Mat-Su Valley), and the Panhandle region. Most of these amounts ranged from 0.5-2.0 inches. Comparable amounts of precipitation fell over western and central Puerto Rico as well during this past week. Accordingly, no modifications were rendered to the drought depiction in either Alaska or Puerto Rico.

Looking Ahead: During the next 5 days (March 28-April 1) a broad band of precipitation (0.5-2.0 inches) is expected from the interior Southeast westward across Arkansas and eastern Oklahoma. Though most of this precipitation will fall on drought-free areas, the western portions (Arkansas and eastern Oklahoma) could certainly benefit from this rainfall. Elsewhere, the predicted precipitation amounts (generally around a half-inch) across the eastern half of the contiguous U.S. may be enough to offset additional degradation. Little if any precipitation is anticipated across a large portion of the High Plains, the central and southern Rockies, the Southwest and the Florida peninsula.


Drought: Tornadoes Brought Needed Rainfall

February 7, 2013 by · Comments Off on Drought: Tornadoes Brought Needed Rainfall 

Summary: Precipitation in this U.S. Drought Monitor week was dominated by a strong frontal passage that produced a tornado outbreak on Jan. 29-30. In the two-day period, there were 78 reports of tornadoes in the NOAA Storm Prediction Center’s Storm Reports, 65 on Jan. 29 and 13 on Jan. 30, all of which are considered preliminary. Tornadoes were reported in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma and Tennessee. Tennessee appears to have the largest number of reports at 19. There was one tornado-related fatality in Georgia, outside of Atlanta. This storm dumped above normal precipitation from the Southern Plains into the Midwest and from the Deep South through upstate New York.

The Southeast: The powerful storm on the 29th and 30th of January provided some much needed precipitation to the region. Areas of Exceptional (D3), Severe (D2) and Moderate Drought (D1) as well as Abnormal Dryness (D0) were alleviated from northeast Alabama, through northern Georgia and up the Appalachians into Virginia. Tennessee and Kentucky also saw eradication of Abnormal Dryness (D0) in the western parts of their states. Conversely, Exceptional Drought (D3) expanded in southern Georgia and Moderate Drought (D1) expanded in southern Alabama and Mississippi. Moderate Drought (D1) was introduced in South Florida.

The Northeast and Mid-Atlantic: Areas of Moderate Drought (D1) and Abnormal Dryness (D0) improved this week in Appalachian Virginia and West Virginia. All other areas remained unchanged.

The South and Southern Plains: The areas from eastern Oklahoma through Arkansas saw significant improvements in Extreme (D3), Severe (D2), and Moderate Drought (D1) and Abnormal Dryness this week with the passing of the Jan. 29-30 storm. In southern Texas and the Oklahoma Panhandle, areas of Exceptional (D4), Extreme (D3), Severe (D2), and Moderate Drought (D1) expanded as did Abnormal Dryness (D0). In South Texas, this was largely due to dry conditions compounded by above normal temperatures and wind.

The Central and Northern Plains and Midwest: Conditions continued to improve in the Midwest. The area from Missouri up through eastern Iowa and into Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio saw relief of Severe (D2) and Moderate Drought (D1) and Abnormal Dryness (D0). Additionally, South Dakota saw small improvement in Exceptional (D4) and Extreme Drought (D3). Precipitation fell in other areas of this region but frozen soils led to high runoff and little moisture seeping in to the ground. Improvements were largely kept to areas with soil temperatures above freezing.

The West: Exceptional Drought (D4) expanded in Colorado this week while Abnormal Dryness (D0) abated in central Idaho and western Montana. Other areas of the West remained unchanged. Snowpack improved in some places this week but is still below normal across much of the West.

Hawaii, Alaska and Puerto Rico: Two weeks of decent precipitation have improved D0 to D3 conditions across the Hawaiian Islands with each Island seeing at least come improvement. Likewise, central Alaska also saw improvement in Abnormal Dryness (D0) due to enhanced precipitation. Drought conditions remained unchanged in Puerto Rico.

Looking Ahead: During the Feb. 7-11  time period, there is an enhanced probability of precipitation moving from the West Coast early in the period, across the central U.S., and into the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic by the end of the period. Above normal temperatures are expected to move from the central U.S. early in the period to also cover the East and Gulf Coasts by the end of the period.

For the ensuing five days (Feb. 12-16), the odds favor normal to above normal temperatures mostly east of the Mississippi River. Below-normal temperatures are likely from the Mississippi River to the West Coast. Precipitation is likely to be normal to above-normal from the Northern Rockies to the Southern Plains and all points eastward. Below-normal precipitation is likely along the West Coast. The odds of above-normal precipitation are greatest across the Northern Plains, into the Great Lakes, all down the East Coast and in southern Texas. In Alaska, temperatures and precipitation are likely to be above-normal across the state.

Drought: East Texas Will Get Needed Rainfall

January 10, 2013 by · Comments Off on Drought: East Texas Will Get Needed Rainfall 

Summary: This U.S. Drought Monitor week saw minor modifications as the conterminous U.S. experienced relatively tranquil weather conditions. Some modest amounts of precipitation fell over the central Gulf Coast states, California and the Pacific Northwest while some lesser amounts were observed over portions of the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic states.

Overall, temperatures across much of the conterminous U.S. were well below normal except for portions of the Southeast, Mid-Atlantic, Northern Great Plains and the Upper Great Lakes region where temperatures were above average.

The northern Great Basin, Intermountain West and central Rocky Mountains experienced well-below-normal temperatures during the last week, and numerous records were broken.

In Alaska, temperatures were well above normal during the last week, while the Hawaiian Islands experienced generally cooler-than-normal conditions.

Looking Ahead: For the remainder of the week, the conterminous U.S. will shift toward a more active weather pattern. The NWS HPC 5-Day Quantitative Precipitation Forecast (QPF) calls for heavy precipitation to fall over eastern Texas as well as portions of the Lower Mississippi and Ohio Valleys.

The Pacific Northwest will remain in an active pattern this week as will the Northern Rockies.

Temperatures are forecasted to be above average east of the Rockies while most of the West will continue to remain well below normal.

The 6–10 day outlooks call for a high probability of below-normal precipitation west of the Rockies and an elevated probability of above-normal precipitation in the eastern half of the conterminous U.S.

In Alaska, the 6–10 day forecasts call for an elevated probability of above-normal precipitation and temperatures.

Drought: Precipitation Didn’t Ease LT Deficits

January 3, 2013 by · Comments Off on Drought: Precipitation Didn’t Ease LT Deficits 

Weather Summary: Over the last seven days, a couple of winter storm systems moved across the United States, bringing much-needed precipitation to some of the drought areas. Widespread areas of an inch or more of precipitation occurred across the East and parts of the Midwest, with locally 2-plus inches of rain.

The drought depiction was improved where the heaviest precipitation occurred, but generally the precipitation this week was not enough to ease long-term deficits. Half an inch to an inch of precipitation fell over parts of the Rockies and intermountain basin. Two inches to over 5 inches of precipitation occurred over much of the West Coast, but generally not over drought areas.

No precipitation was observed over parts of the southern Plains, northern High Plains, Upper Midwest and southern Florida.

Looking Ahead: Below-normal temperatures should dominate much of the country as an upper-level trough digs in over the next five days (Dec. 26-30), continuing an active weather pattern with multiple winter storm systems. Precipitation amounts are forecast to be less than an inch across most of the West (except 1.0-1.5 inches along the coast) and parts of the Southeast, but 1.0-2.5 inches from the Mid-Atlantic to Northeast. A swath of half-inch precipitation may blanket the northern Plains, but otherwise the Plains should be mostly dry.

The CPC 6-10 day and 8-14 day forecasts (for Jan. 1-9) show a return of above-normal temperatures to the north central region, continued below-normal temperatures in the Southwest, and below-normal temperatures in the East slowly shifting to the Northeast.

Precipitation is expected to be above normal from the southern Plains to Mid-Atlantic states and in the eastern Great Lakes, while the forecast favors below-normal precipitation for much of the West, northern to central Plains, Upper Midwest and New England. Alaska is expected to be warmer and wetter than normal.

Drought Update: Winter Storms Hit the Nation

December 20, 2012 by · Comments Off on Drought Update: Winter Storms Hit the Nation 

Summary: Over the last seven days, much of the eastern United States has received some precipitation, with the greatest amounts at the end of the period over portions of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia, where up to 3 inches of rain was recorded.

Portions of the central Plains and Midwest recorded light precipitation from Nebraska and Iowa into South Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin, where amounts were generally less than 1 inch and most fell on unfrozen soils. This allowed for good infiltration into the top layers of the profile.

An active pattern continued in the Pacific Northwest, where precipitation amounts of 2 to 4 inches were common along the coast and several feet of snow fell in the upper elevations. Central Arizona also received some good rain over several days with amounts from 1.5 to 3 inches.

Looking Ahead: Over the next five days (Dec. 19-23) the weather pattern should stay active, with multiple storm systems impacting the country. A vigorous system will be moving out of the Plains and into the Midwest and Great Lakes region and finally into New England over the next five days. Precipitation amounts are expected to be in the 0.50 to 2.40 inch range, with the greatest amounts expected over New England.

A second system will be coming into the Pacific Northwest with projected precipitation amounts of up to 9.00 inches in southern Oregon and northern California along the coast.

Temperatures during this time look to be above normal over much of the eastern half of the country and below normal along the west coast. Extremes will range from 9 degrees Fahrenheit above normal in Oklahoma and Arkansas to 6 degrees Fahrenheit below normal in southern Oregon.

The CPC 6-10 day forecast (Dec. 24-28) is showing a good chance for below normal temperatures over much of the United States, from the northern Rocky Mountains all the way to the Southeast. The coldest temperatures are expected over the central Plains to Montana. The best chances for temperatures above normal are in Alaska and the northern Great Lakes into New England. The precipitation pattern stays active, but much of the country will have good chances of above normal precipitation, with the best chances over the southeast and Great Basin.

Nation’s Midsection Still in Serious Drought

November 15, 2012 by · Comments Off on Nation’s Midsection Still in Serious Drought 

Weekly Summary: A Pacific storm system and associated cold front slowly tracked across the lower 48 States during the week, producing welcome and beneficial precipitation to portions of the Northwest, Rockies, Great Plains, Midwest and lower Mississippi Valley.

As the period commenced, a Nor’easter off the middle and northern Atlantic Coast brought unseasonably heavy snow (up to a foot) to some areas devastated by Superstorm Sandy.

In the West, the storm system dropped the largest precipitation totals on the mountains, with lesser amounts on lower elevation sites. As the system moved into the Nation’s midsection, Gulf moisture was tapped, producing swaths of moderate to heavy showers (more than an inch) from central Kansas northeastward into the UP of Michigan, and from northeastern Texas northeastward into southern Indiana and central Kentucky.

Unfortunately, some parts of the country, namely the Southwest, southern and north-central Plains, and the eastern Gulf and southern Atlantic Coast States, missed the bulk of the precipitation and conditions persisted or worsened.

Temperatures averaged below normal in the West and East, with above-normal readings in the southern and central Plains into the upper Midwest.

In Hawaii, mostly dry weather prevailed early in the period, but trade wind showers coupled with a nearby upper-level trough enhanced the east side rains later in the week. Southwestern and extreme southeastern Alaska received moderate to heavy precipitation.

Looking Ahead: During the next five days (Nov. 15-19), a relatively tranquil weather pattern will envelop the Nation’s midsection. Another Nor’easter is expected to develop and affect the southern and middle Atlantic Coast States later in the period, while another Pacific storm system impacts the western quarter of the U.S., possibly reaching the Rockies by Sunday or Monday. In between the two systems, little or no precipitation is expected to fall. Temperatures are forecast to average above normal from the Intermountain West eastward into the upper Midwest and the southern Plains. Subnormal readings are expected in the southern Atlantic Coast States and along the California Coast.

For the 6-10 day outlook (Nov. 20–24), the odds favor above normal precipitation in the Northwest eastward into the upper Midwest, with subnormal precipitation likely from the Four Corner States eastward into the Southeast, and in Alaska. Chances for above normal temperatures are good across the western half of the Nation and into New England, with the highest odds in the North-Central States. Subnormal temperature probabilities are largest in the eastern Gulf and southern Atlantic Coast States, and in Alaska.

Drought: Rainfall Soothes Parched America

August 30, 2012 by · Comments Off on Drought: Rainfall Soothes Parched America 

The latest Drought Monitor from the U.S. Department of Agriculture suggests that the nation’s drought is easing. The detailed report follows.

The Northeast: A fairly dry week over much of the region did not warrant any large-scale changes. Some rains late in the period did allow for some improvements over southern New York and north central Pennsylvania, where several counties were removed from D0 status and some improvements were made to D1 conditions. Lingering dryness over the short term did allow for some introduction of D0 conditions in northern Vermont this week.

Mid-Atlantic: Heavy rains, with some amounts approaching 12 inches, helped to ease some of the drought issues in the Delmarva region. Categorical improvements were made where the greatest amounts of rain occurred and other areas were adjusted throughout Maryland, Delaware, and Virginia. Short-term conditions throughout much of the area are recovering while long-term issues are lingering.

Southeast: As tropical storm Isaac sent some initial rain bands through the region, areas of south Florida picked up over 5 inches of rain. Since January 1, the Miami International airport has recorded 68.48 inches of rain, compared to a normal of 39.45 inches and 38.82 inches last year. With the last remaining areas of D0 conditions removed this week, this is the first time since June 29, 2010, that no abnormally dry or drought conditions are being depicted in Florida. Rains throughout much of eastern Georgia allowed for some easing of drought conditions there, and improvements were made to D3/D4 areas along the South Carolina coast. In North Carolina, D1 was eliminated and much of the remaining D0 was improved as well.

South: The Gulf coast of Louisiana as well as portions in east Texas continued in a wet pattern. At the end of the current U.S. Drought Monitor period, Hurricane Isaac was making landfall along the Louisiana and Mississippi coasts. The full impact of this storm and inland remnants will be considered next week for possible improvements.

Midwest: After a very dry summer, some areas have been in a wetter and cooler pattern over the last several weeks. Over the last week, the heaviest rains were recorded from northeast Kansas into southern Iowa and into central Illinois and northwest Indiana. Where the heaviest rains occurred, improvements were made, but it should be noted that many of the row crops will not benefit from these rains and pastures have had minimal improvement so far. Improvements were made in Michigan as an assessment of the impact of rains over the last several weeks allowed for the removal of D2 and a reduction of D1 conditions as well. Slight improvements were made over portions of southern Minnesota by removing the D3 from the southwest corner of the state while D1 was expanded in the central portion of the state.

The Plains: Another mostly dry week over most of the plains states. Areas of Kansas, extreme southeast Nebraska and portions of Oklahoma did record precipitation amounts that approached 4 inches in places. In these areas, full categorical improvements were shown specifically in northeast and south central Kansas, southeast Nebraska and central Oklahoma.

In North Dakota, dry conditions led to the expansion of D0 conditions in the western half of the state and D2 expanded in the southwest. In the northeast portion of North Dakota, D1 also expanded. In South Dakota, D3 expanded in the western portion of the state while D1 expanded in the north central. More water restrictions were going to take effect in Sioux Falls as the flow on the Big Sioux River was below 50 cfs.

In portions of southeast Oklahoma, D4 was expanded to include more of the area that has been missing out on the recent rains. Even with rains in portions of Texas, the consensus was that the impacted grazing lands are not showing much change, so no improvements were made. Degradation was shown in west Texas into New Mexico where a new area of D4 was introduced. Conditions also intensified and expanded in south Texas where another new area of D4 was introduced and all drought intensity levels pushed farther to the north. Some improvements were shown to D0 and D1 levels in central and eastern Texas as the area was refined to account for the most recent precipitation in the area.

The West: The active rainfall pattern continued over portions of Arizona, western New Mexico and southern Nevada. Many locations recorded well over 2 inches of rain during the last week and some even over 3 inches. With the recent round of precipitation and a wet pattern for most of the month, categorical improvements were made over central Arizona, western New Mexico and southern Nevada.

In southern Arizona, the D3 was completely eliminated. In Colorado, the dry conditions and impacts in the northeast part of the state allowed for the expansion of D4 out of Nebraska, and D3 expanded across much of southeast Wyoming and into Colorado. In southeast Colorado, D4 expanded where conditions continue to worsen. Some improvements were made in central and southwest Colorado where D3 was improved to D2, based upon recent rains.

In Wyoming, the last several months have continued to be dry and many of the indicators were worsening as well. For southwest Wyoming, D2/D3 was expanded to the east and north while D0 was introduced in the far northwest part of the state. Nevada had D3 conditions expand into more of the Great Basin and D2 expanded to the north to include portions of southern Oregon.

Hawaii, Alaska and Puerto Rico: No changes were made in Hawaii, Alaska or Puerto Rico this week.

Looking Ahead: Over the next five days (Aug. 29-Sept. 2) the remnants of Hurricane Isaac will continue to move inland and impact the area from Louisiana into Arkansas and portions of Missouri, Illinois and Indiana. Areas of the Midwest may see up to 7 inches of rain as the system moves through the region. The southwestern United States looks to stay in an active pattern with scattered showers from Arizona up into Utah and Idaho. Temperatures look to be well above normal over much of the country, with departures of 6-9 degrees Fahrenheit over the High Plains.

The CPC 6-10 day forecast (Sept. 3-7): Temperatures are expected to be above normal over most of the southern and eastern United States as well as through the Rocky Mountains, with portions of Alaska, the West Coast and Midwest having a chance for below-normal temperatures. The best chance of above-normal temperatures is along the southern Plains and into the Southeast. The best chances for above-normal precipitation are in the Central Plains and into New England. Below-normal precipitation can be expected over the western United States and Texas.


Drought Update: Grip Lessens Just Slightly

August 23, 2012 by · Comments Off on Drought Update: Grip Lessens Just Slightly 

Weekly Summary: This U.S. Drought Monitor week saw a few notable improvements and some serious degradation. Temperatures have generally been below normal this week from the east side of the Rockies to the East Coast, with the exception of Texas, the Southeast Coast and northern New England.

This has helped ease drought impacts, particularly in those areas where beneficial precipitation fell. One such area is in the Ohio Valley where parts of Indiana saw more than five inches of rain. This is the second straight week of beneficial precipitation for some of these areas and this precipitation has largely alleviated Exceptional Drought (D4) from the state, despite lingering impacts still being felt.

Last week, drought gripped slightly less of the agricultural land in the country with 85% of the U.S. corn crop, 83% of soybeans, 63% of hay, and 71% of cattle areas experiencing drought. Nearly half of the corn (49%) and soybean (46%) areas are experiencing Extreme (D3) to Exceptional (D4) Drought. This has led to both reduced yields and earlier harvests.

Additional impacts this week include closing of an 11-mile stretch of the Mississippi River near Greenville, Miss., to barge traffic because of low water levels and wildfires expanding from northern California to Idaho.

Looking Ahead: During the Aug. 23 – 27  time period, there is an enhanced probability of precipitation in the Northern Plains and in the extreme South throughout the entire period, as well as in the Southwest and the south Atlantic Coast early in the period, and around the Great Lakes later in the period. Below normal precipitation is expected in the Northwest, New England and into the Ohio Valley. The northern tier of the country is expected to see above normal temperatures.

For the ensuing five days (Aug. 28 – Sept. 1), the odds favor normal to above normal temperatures everywhere in the U.S. with the exception of the Pacific Coast. Normal to below-normal precipitation is expected from the West Coast, through the Southern and Central Plains and into the Ohio Valley and South. Above-normal precipitation is expected from the Northern Plains, through the Great Lakes, and all along the East Coast.

In Alaska, temperatures are expected to be normal to above-normal over the entire state and precipitation is expected to be below normal in the south and above normal in the north.

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