Moderate to heavy rain moved across Central and Eastern U.S. last week, providing one-class Drought Monitor changes in the Plains, Texas, the Southeast and into the Mid-Atlantic, the drought map released Thursday showed.
Heaviest precipitation totals were observed near the Gulf Coast, where numerous coastal counties from southeastern Texas to the extreme western Florida Panhandle received 5-10 inches during the past week, said Drought Monitor author Anthony Artusa of NOAA. Precipitation amounts were generally light in the interior Pacific Northwest, the Southwest and the northern Plains.
About 53.4% of the contiguous U.S. is in some form of drought or dryness currently, compared to 58.7% last week and 50.2% one year ago. About 3.5% is in the most extreme drought rating, compared to 3.5% last week and 3.2% one year ago.
In the Northeast, a swath of drought showed improvement across Pennsylvania and heavy rain across Virginia alleviated some drought there.
Heavy rain in the Southeast contributed to above average stream flows, and accordingly, areas of abnormal dryness (D0) and moderate drought (D1) were eliminated from eastern Louisiana and southern Mississippi, and a general 1-category improvement was rendered to the drought depiction in central and southern Alabama.
In eastern Iowa, moderate rain of 1-2 inches fell over western portions of the abnormal dryness area, resulting in minor trimming of the drought depiction. In west-central Iowa, about 1.5 inches of rain fell, prompting the elimination of the small area of D0.
In North Dakota, light rain fell during the past 7 days, offsetting further deterioration of conditions. In South Dakota, only slight adjustments were made to the drought depiction. In north-central South Dakota, D1 was extended slightly northward, and in southeastern South Dakota, D1 was expanded slightly southward.
In the southern portion of the Nebraska Panhandle and nearby southeastern Wyoming, D0 was eliminated due to a recent storm system, and the region is finally beginning to experience spring green-up.
The improved conditions also warranted the removal of D0 in the northern Laramie Range in southeastern Wyoming.
Continue reading after the jump >>
During the past week in the Sand hills region of north-central Nebraska, 2-4 inch rainfall surpluses and good soil moisture infiltration prompted a 1-category improvement to the depiction. In northeastern Nebraska, despite receiving decent moisture over the past two weeks, significant deficits still linger at the 30-, 60-, and 90-day time periods. Therefore, the depiction remains unchanged in this area, pending reassessment next week.
In Kansas, respectable rains (mostly 0.5-2.0 inches, locally greater) helped to offset any additional degradation. Surface water supplies are still low, and runoff is minimal. No alteration was made to the Kansas drought depiction this week.
The southern Great Plains also experienced a mix of both improvements and degradations. In Oklahoma, one-category degradations were made in the western Panhandle. There were reports of dust storms and dead dryland wheat across much of this area.
In west-central Oklahoma, a swath of 4-8 inch rains prompted a 1-category improvement.
In Texas, widespread one-category improvements were made to the drought depiction after recent rain fell over many areas that needed it. Stream flows are improving in southern and south-central Texas. In the Panhandle region, some of the wheat crop is expected to be salvaged, but it is unlikely the crop will return to normal.
Moderate precipitation fell in much of the Upper Colorado River Basin this past week, though not enough to greatly improve snowpack or stream flows. This region will be monitored for possible improvements next week.
In southern New Mexico, D1 was removed in the South-central part of the state due to good moisture conditions.
In northeastern California, exceptional drought (D4) was expanded across the northern Sierras this week, while in the extreme north-eastern part of the state a one-category improvement (from D4 to D3) was rendered to the depiction to more accurately reflect local conditions.
In Washington state, record/near-record low snowpack supports the expansion of D1 across the northern Cascades, and the introduction of moderate drought in northeastern Washington.
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.