The U.S. Drought Monitor this week reports a mixed bag of conditions for all regions of the U.S., as areas in the Upper Midwest receive scattered rains and pop-up storms, the Far West remains dry and monsoon rains continue to provide short-term relief to parts of the Southwest and Great Basin.
Overall, the seven-day average temperatures in the western U.S. were generally below normal, while temps east of the Rockies were above normal. The New England area was cooler.
Northern Indiana got the most rain this week in the Midwest, drought map author David Simeral of the Western Regional Climate Center says.
Heavy rains helped to improved soil moisture and pasture conditions as well as area streamflows leading to removal of scattered pockets of abnormally dry areas in Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Minnesota, and Ohio.
In southwestern Missouri, short-term precipitation deficits, below-normal streamflows, and reduced soil moisture led to drought expansion, Simeral says.
Crop conditions continue to look promising as corn this week jumped one percentage point to 73% good to excellent in USDA's latest crop condition report.
For U.S. soybeans, 90% were setting pods, ahead of 82% a year ago, and the 89% average.
Heavy rains also fell across parts of the Northern Plains during the past week and the area also saw cooler temperatures. This led to the removal of drought from South Dakota and Nebraska.
In the Southern Plains, hot and dry conditions dominated the region with high temperatures exceeding 100 degrees F in both Oklahoma and Kansas. In Oklahoma, drying ponds and low reservoir storage levels led to minor expansion of areas of severe drought.
Rains sidelined wheat harvest this week, slowing progress to 27% harvested, compared to 39% last year. In North Dakota, the largest producer, harvest was 10% versus 25% a year ago and the 43% average.
During the past week, the South was hot and dry with temperatures reaching the high 90s to more than 100 degrees F across most of the region.
Some moderate to locally heavy precipitation fell across isolated areas in the southern half of Louisiana, southeastern Texas, western Texas, and the Texas Panhandle. On the map, conditions across parts of Texas continued to deteriorate as below-normal precipitation, high maximum temperatures, reduced soil moisture, and low reservoirs led to expansion of areas of drought in the North Central and Gulf Coast Plains regions.
Cotton is moving along in the South; Bolls were open on 19% of the cotton, compared with 10% a year ago, and the 18% average. The crop was rated 51% good to excellent, down from 50% a week ago and 47% a year ago.
The Southeast was hot and generally dry during the past week with the exception of some isolated shower activity in southern Alabama, southeast Georgia, and Florida.
Continued short-term precipitation deficits and below-normal streamflows led to expansion of drought areas of in Alabama and Georgia. In southwestern Georgia, hot and dry conditions continued to deplete soil moisture and some minor agricultural impacts have been reported.
Simeral reports that significant rains fell across the eastern two-thirds of Montana this week, leading to flash flooding of local streams.
In the Southwest, torrential monsoonal rains in the Phoenix Metro area and central Arizona led to flash flooding of dry washes and streams. The cumulative effect of the summer monsoon precipitation in Arizona led to one-category improvements in the central, southern, and western portions of the state. In these areas, beneficial rains improved the health of the vegetation, soil moisture, and surface water flows.
In California, recent showers and thunderstorms in the Mojave Desert (southeastern California) led to a one-category improvement in an area of severe drought, Simeral says. Otherwise, conditions in California remained unchanged on the map. Elsewhere around the West, reservoir storage levels remained well below normal in Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, and Oregon.
Source: U.S. Drought Monitor/David Simeral