Severe drought remains focused on the West while only patchy areas of drought remain across the Plains and Eastern third of the U.S., according to Thursday's U.S. Drought Monitor and drought map author Richard Tinker of NOAA.
The map shows mostly patches of abnormally dry area over the Eastern-central region, with moderate drought overlays. Much of California remains in the exceptional drought category, though the four corners area saw a one category improvement this week, as did a section of northeastern Nevada.
About 39.6% of the contiguous U.S. is in some form of drought or dryness currently, compared to 40% last week and 45.3% one year ago. About 2.9% is in the most extreme rating, compared to 3% last week and 3.1% one year ago.
In the Northeast, most of central and north New York and western New England received 2 to 4 inches of rain over the course of the week. In contrast, many locations in southern and eastern Pennsylvania, lower New York and Long Island, and east New England reported 0.5 to 1.0 inch.
In the southeast, rainfall totals were somewhat higher than in the areas to the north, but above-normal amounts were patchy.
The swaths of D0 from eastern Mississippi northeastward into northwestern Georgia changed shape a bit in response to spotty areas that received either significantly more or less than the amounts that prevailed across the region.
Across this general area, dryness and drought could expand and intensify quickly if deficient rainfall and abnormally hot weather predominate over the next few weeks.
A swath of dryness has developed during the last couple of months from the interior eastern Carolinas northwestward through the lower Ohio Valley, including most of Kentucky, northeastern Tennessee, and southwestern West Virginia.
Growing moisture shortages prompted broad deterioration through the lower Ohio Valley, much of Kentucky, and adjacent West Virginia and Tennessee, including the introduction of moderate drought in the immediate lower Ohio Valley, eastern Kentucky and Tennessee, and adjacent West Virginia.
In addition, D0 also expanded a bit eastward in the interior eastern Carolinas. The areas in moderate drought have received generally one-third to two-thirds of normal rainfall since mid-April.
In the Midwest, beneficial rains fell on the D0 area in the eastern Great Lakes, but in deference to longer-term deficits and low groundwater estimates, no changes were made this week.
Though some of the area saw abundant moisture, parts of the region still report somewhat below normal precipitation for the past 9 to 24 months, with northeast Indiana having subnormal totals for the longest period.
Northern Minnesota and adjacent Wisconsin received little or no rain this past week, with dryness essentially unchanged in intensity.
Only a few areas of dryness and drought remain in the Great Plains following the deluges of the last 1 to 2 months. It was wet again this past week, with most sites from the western Dakotas and northern Nebraska southward through central and southeast Texas recording at least an inch of rain.
D1 and D0 coverage again declined as a result, with improvements in southwest Kansas and parts of the Oklahoma and Texas Panhandles.
Despite the heavy rains in southeastern South Dakota and northeastern Nebraska, satellite-derived estimates still showed low levels of groundwater and root zone moisture, and vegetative health remained stressed by dryness. As a result, no changes were made this week.
There were also no changes in the other regions of dryness in the Plains, where the week's weather was relatively nondescript.
Unseasonably heavy rains fell again this week across a swath from west-central Nevada through portions of Utah, southernmost Idaho, western Wyoming, southwestern Colorado, and adjacent Arizona and New Mexico, partially from tropical cyclone remnants.
The rains of the current and past few weeks led to some broad areas of improvement, most notably interior west-central Nevada, northeastern Nevada and adjacent Idaho and Utah, and a broad portion of the Four Corners region.
Farther north and west, however, dryness and warmth led to degradations in part of western Oregon, northern Idaho and adjacent Montana, and a few other small patches.
Although this week finally brought an end to the protracted period of D4 conditions entrenched in west-central Nevada, it should be noted that water supplies were practically unaffected by the recent precipitation. The landscape, however, is looking greener than it has in a long time, and across the state, only 25% of pastureland was short or very short of moisture, the lowest total since October 2011.
Source: Richard Tinker/ The U.S. Drought Monitor is produced through a partnership between the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the United States Department of Agriculture, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.