Drought continues to persist in Western states and has expanded in several areas this week, thanks to minimal precipitation.
A series of fast-moving, clipper-type systems also dominated on the temperature front, bringing bitter cold arctic air to most of the central and eastern lower 48 states, says this week's Drought Monitor author Anthony Artusa of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Top temperatures reached the 30s and 40s in the Upper Mississippi Valley eastward across the Great Lakes to interior portions of the northern and central Atlantic states, Artusa says, while minimum temperatures ranged from near zero to about 30 degrees below zero F.
Precipitation was largely confined to the Great Lakes, the Northeast, and the Texas coast, though amounts were mostly in the 0.5-1.5 inch range.
Meanwhile, drought continues across several far western states, including the significantly impacted California.
In the northwestern area of the state, a one category degradation from severe to extreme drought was made. Another one category downgrade from extreme to exceptional drought was noted between Monterey, Calif., and Bakersfield, Calif.
According to the Drought Monitor, a few of the impacts within the exceptional drought area include fallowing of land, wells running dry, municipalities considering drilling deeper wells, and little to no rangeland grasses for cattle to graze on, prompting significant livestock sell off.
In southwestern Colorado, with declining precipitation percentiles and snowpack percent of normal values, a one category downgrade was rendered to the drought depiction. In northeastern Colorado, a one category downgrade was made.
In Arizona, a predominantly dry pattern has been in place since the late-season monsoon rains last September. Impacts are somewhat limited during winter, Artusa says, but an increased snowpack in the next two months is needed to preclude more serious problems.
One-category degradations were noted also in New Mexico, Oklahoma and Kansas.
In Texas, much of the eastern Panhandle has received 25%or less of normal precipitation in the past 60 days. The story is similar in Oklahoma, where subzero dew points have occurred throughout much of January.
Significant precipitation deficits are mounting over northwestern Louisiana, sparking an area of abnormally dry conditions, however no changes were considered necessary to the depiction over the central and northern Mississippi Valley this week.
View the map comparison to last week below, and check out the Change Map on the U.S. Drought Monitor Website.
Source: U.S. Drought Monitor