Improvements continue across western Wisconsin, Minnesota and parts of Iowa on this week's U.S. Drought Monitor with the trimming of abnormal dryness and moderate drought after beneficial rains, though California logged another week of minimal changes and no improvements to its midsection, the state's hardest-hit area.
The abnormally dry areas in western Wisconsin and northern Minnesota have been removed this week. Heavy rains in western Iowa also led to the removal of severe drought in the region, according to Drought Monitor author Mark Svoboda of the National Drought Mitigation Center.
Heavy rains fell across western, northern and eastern Nebraska last week, leading to significant improvements in the Panhandle. The biggest improvements, however, were seen in east-central Nebraska, where the storms dumped anywhere from 3 to 5 inches or more, leading to reduction of drought and a pocket that is now drought-free with short-term and lingering long-term dryness/drought concerns eased for now.
The recent wet trend continued across southeastern South Dakota as well, bringing more improvements with drought reduction there and across the border into Minnesota.
Farther south, Kansas also saw a mixed bag this week with heavy but narrow bands of storms putting a small dent in the drought there, particularly in central Kansas where the extreme drought was trimmed, leaving severe drought behind, Svoboda says.
Elsewhere in Kansas, though, the drought strengthened its grip and was accompanied last week by well above normal temperatures, leading to an expansion of exceptional drought into the extreme southwestern reaches of the state to the Oklahoma border.
Oklahoma also felt those hotter temperatures along with some below-freezing readings late in the period, leading to more damage to the winter wheat crop, which has felt the brunt of a cold winter and coinciding drought. However, heavy rains did fall across the southeast corner of the state, bringing some improvement there.
In Texas, scattered totals of 2 to 4 inches fell across northeastern and eastern counties this past week, leading to some relative improvement with a push west and south of drought in these areas. In fact, the area of extreme drought located just off the coast in southern Texas has been removed this week. Slight trimming appeared in other areas of the state.
Heavy rains fell across southeastern Louisiana this past week, putting an end to a short-lived expansion of abnormally dry conditions in the area last week. A few pockets of heavier rain in western Arkansas led to some slight drought reduction, though Northwest Arkansas continues to dry out and bears watching for deterioration if the rains don't come soon, Svoboda estimates.
Another dry and warmer week brings a slight expansion of D0 in northern Alabama and extreme northeastern Mississippi. A small pocket of moderate drought has also been introduced this week in an area where southern Tennessee, northwest Alabama and northeast Mississippi converge.
Most states in the West saw below-normal temperatures last week, while a mixed bag of improvements and deterioration is noted on this week's map.
In Colorado, storms continue to avoid the southeastern corner of the state, leading to an expansion of extreme drought westward. In Washington, the remaining dryness and drought has been reclassified to long-term. In Arizona, continued dryness leading up to the monsoon season means an expansion of severe drought in the northwest, northeast and southern regions of the state.
All of California is now depicted as being in severe drought or worse this week, with the extreme to exceptional drought areas remaining unchanged. Attention this week turns to the heat wave settling in, which will only serve to exacerbate and accelerate drought impact concerns across the state, Svoboda says. Increases on water demand and the increased risk of fire will ramp up as the heat does.
Source: U.S. Drought Monitor