This week saw warmer than normal temperatures impacting roughly two-thirds of the nation as a significant storm brought abundant rain to the Ohio Valley and severe weather through that region and the Central Plains, this week's Drought Monitor author, NOAA's Michael Brewer, said.
Most of the rest of the country experienced continued dryness. Strong winds and warmer than average temperatures added short-term insult to the long-term drought impacting the Southern Plains.
About 59.8% of the contiguous U.S. is in some form of drought or dryness currently, compared to 49.7% one year ago. About 3.6% is in the most extreme drought rating, compared to just 2.5% one year ago.
Abnormal dryness (D0) expanded in New England slightly as snow continues to stick around in some areas but the region remained generally dry, the drought map said.
Farther south, Brewer said northern Alabama and Tennessee received some precipitation, though the remainder of the region was dry. In Georgia and southern Alabama, lingering dryness led to the expansion of D0 and moderate drought (D1) and the introduction of severe drought (D2) in south-central Alabama.
Likewise, areas of Mississippi that missed the beneficial rains that fell to their north experienced an expansion of D0 in the southern part of the state.
From southern Missouri into West Virginia, abundant rain fell, Brewer said. This prompted removing some areas of D0 in Missouri. The northern part of the Midwest remained dry and D0 also expanded in southern Michigan, through northern Indiana and into west-central Illinois.
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Rain came to the Plains associated with severe weather this Drought Monitor week, Brewer said. The rain was mostly limited to areas of eastern Oklahoma and Kansas and extended into the southern Midwest.
Other parts of the Southern Plains experienced degradation in the drought conditions largely associated with the warm temperatures and very strong winds. D2, extreme drought (D3), and exceptional drought (D4) expanded around the Texas panhandle and adjacent areas, extending into central Oklahoma.
In southern Kansas, D2 and D3 expanded as the state saw dust clouds roll through at least one western county on April 2, Brewer reported.
Some much needed precipitation fell in northwestern California this week. The rain did not penetrate very far from the coast. Continued dryness resulted in an expansion of D4 in northwest California.
Statewide snowpack remains at 5% as of April 6, 2015. Northern Nevada and Utah saw an expansion of D2 in the north as did southern Idaho. In northern Colorado and southern Wyoming, D0 expanded.
Michael Brewer, NOAA/NCDC/ The U.S. Drought Monitor is produced in 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.