Continued hot and dry conditions lingered in the Mid-Atlantic and in the Southeast this drought monitor week with rainfall in Colorado and Texas resulted in area improvements.
Minor improvements in areas of exceptional drought in the West were also noted, though extremely minimal at best.
Precipitation accumulations this week were greatest (in excess of five inches) in southern portions of the Midwest; elsewhere, pockets of heavy rainfall were observed in portions of Texas and eastern Oklahoma, this week's Drought Monitor author David Simeral of the Western Regional Climate Center said.
About 35.2% of the contiguous U.S. is in some form of drought or dryness currently, compared to 36.5% last week and 45.4% one year ago. About 2.8% is in the most extreme rating, compared to 2.9% last week and 2.9% one year ago.
The Northeast continued to see improvements on the map this week in areas of Abnormally Dry (D0) and Moderate Drought in New York State; D0 areas were reduced in Connecticut and Massachusetts as well.
The Mid-Atlantic was generally dry, except for West Virginia which received moderate-to-heavy precipitation accumulations.
On the map, precipitation deficits during the past 30–60 days led to minor expansion of areas of Abnormally Dry in northeastern and far western portions of North Carolina. According to the NOAA NCEI statewide precipitation rankings, both Virginia and West Virginia experienced near-record precipitation totals for the month of June, but heat was near record as well.
The Southeast continued in a dry pattern with the exception of some light-to-moderate shower activity in central and north-central Florida. On the map, the hot and dry pattern in south Florida led to minor expansion of areas of Severe Drought (D2) and Extreme Drought (D3).
Rainfall accumulations of 3-6 inches were observed in central Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, and southern Ohio this week. An area of Abnormally Dry was introduced in northwestern Iowa in response to short-term precipitation deficits, low streamflows, and low soil moisture.
According to the NOAA NCEI statewide precipitation rankings (based on the last 121 years) for the period of April through June, portions of the Midwest experienced near record wettest with the following rankings: Illinois (118/121), Indiana (117/121), and Ohio (116/121).
Across the central and southern Plains states, temperatures were well below normal for the period while the northern Plains were above normal. Most of the region was generally dry during the past week with the exception of moderate-to-heavy rainfall accumulations in eastern Oklahoma and some isolated pockets in eastern Kansas.
Short-term precipitation deficits and low streamflow led to the expansion of areas of D0 in northwestern Kansas extending just across the border into southwestern Nebraska. In the northern Plains, small areas of D0 were eliminated in southwestern North Dakota and southeastern South Dakota.
During the past week, generally dry conditions prevailed across the South with the exception of some isolated pockets of heavy shower activity in west central and some lesser accumulations in the northwest panhandle of Texas.
In these parts, one-category improvements were made in areas of D0 as well as in the sole remaining area of Moderate Drought (D1) in the state.
Texas experienced the wettest January through June period on record (1895–2015), according to NOAA NCEI. In Oklahoma, short-term improvements led to removal of the remaining areas of D0 in the Panhandle region. During the past week, temperatures were below normal in the western half of the region while eastern portions hovered near-to-slightly-above normal.
During the past week, average temperatures were two-to-ten degrees below normal across most of California, the Intermountain West, and the Southwest.
Southern portions of the Pacific Northwest were cooler than normal while northern portions were two-to-eight degrees above normal. The continued overall hot and dry conditions in the Pacific Northwest led to movement of the impact lines on this week's map to reflect the short-term impacts being reported across the region.
Hot and dry conditions during the past 60 days have impacted the region's agricultural sectors, fisheries, and wildland fire conditions. Warm water temperatures in Oregon have led to fish mortality in both the Deschutes and Willamette rivers.
According to the July 6, 2015 USDA NASS Crop Progress and Conditions report, non-irrigated crops in parts of Washington are showing signs of stress. Pastures in central Washington are reported as being short and extremely dry.
In southeastern Washington, the winter wheat harvest is expected to be two weeks ahead of schedule. On the map, short-term precipitation deficits and low streamflows led to the expansion of D1 in southeastern Idaho. In northeastern California, recent thunderstorm activity led to a one-category improvement in areas of Exceptional Drought (D4) in Modoc County.
According to the NRCS in Alturas, the recent rains have improved rangeland conditions as well as area groundwater, ponds, and springs in some locations. In western Colorado, east-central Utah, and southwestern Wyoming, areas of D0 were removed in response to above-average precipitation (both short- and long-term), normal streamflow activity, and improved soil moisture.
Source: David Simeral, Western Regional Climate Center