The latest U.S. Drought Monitor, released Thursday, reflected impacts of the warm and dry pattern that has prevailed across much of the eastern half of the U.S. as of late, resulting in several areas of one-category degradation.
Rainfall over the week was sparse outside of the Great Lakes Region, The Midwest, Florida, and the South Atlantic and Gulf Coasts, though dryness and drought eased in some of the limited regions receiving moderate to locally heavy rain.
Significant changes were made in areas where the warm, dry pattern has persisted for multiple weeks, said this week's drought map author Richard Tinker with NOAA.
D0 was broadly expanded in a broken pattern across the mid-Atlantic, The Northeast, and The Ohio Valley while widespread intensification occurred in most areas of dryness and drought from eastern Texas to western Mississippi, he said.
In the Northeast and inland, hit-and-miss showers and thunderstorms affected Virginia, the central Appalachians, and Ohio. Amounts were generally light, but exceeded an inch in isolated spots. From Maryland northward through the Northeast and New England, amounts were light at best.
Broad areas of D0 were introduced in parts of West Virginia and the Ohio Valley where shorter-term dryness is acute. Despite the sharp dryness of the past 1 to 2 months, wetness earlier in the year has confined drought to two relatively small areas where longer-term dryness exists, Tinker said.
In the Southeast, heavy rain was common across the Florida Peninsula, scattered across the South Altantic Coast and the length of the Georgia/Florida border, and isolated at best elsewhere.
Soaking rains in southern Florida led to a general 1-category improvement in areas covered by D0 to D3 last week, removing the state's last area of extreme drought.
In the Upper Great Lakes region and the Upper and Middle Mississippi Valleys, fairly broad swaths of moderate to heavy rainfall converged.
Some of the heavier rains ended drought and reduced D0 coverage in northeastern Minnesota, eroded D0 and D1 areas in south-central Wisconsin, and removed the D0 formerly in place across northern Wisconsin, the southern Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and part of the northern Lower Peninsula.
Worsening conditions were limited to part of northeastern Missouri, where reduced topsoil moisture and subnormal 30- to 60-day rainfall amounts were observed.
Moderate drought, meanwhile, was expanded into much of southwestern Mississippi and Louisiana, with sizeable areas of severe to extreme drought expanding across interior Louisiana. Dryness and drought also expanded a bit northward in southern sections of Arkansas and Oklahoma.
As in some other parts of the country, abnormally warm and dry weather over the past 1 to 2 months led to a swath of D0 in the central Plains, primarily across Nebraska, northern and western Kansas, and eastern Colorado.
Moderate to heavy precipitation fell on parts of the Pacific Northwest, central and northern Idaho, and western Montana.
To the south, moderate to locally heavy rain was less extensive across central and southeastern Arizona, but a number of sites reported more than 0.5 inch, and isolated amounts reached 2 inches in the central Highlands and near the Mexican border.
Elsewhere, almost the entirety of California, Nevada, and Utah was devoid of measurable precipitation.
Source: Richard Tinker, NOAA/NWS/NCEP/CPC; 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.