This U.S. Drought Monitor this week saw some improvements across portions of the South and Midwest, caused by heavy rains across both regions.
Drought condition by percent stayed relatively steady -- 56.02% of land in the contiguous U.S. in some form of dryness or drought compared to 55.12% last week -- though several one- and two-cateogry improvements were highlighted by Drought Monitor personnel.
In the South, rain accumulated in Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas, where some rainfall amounts ranged from two-to-six inches with some isolated locations receiving 10 to 12 inches. Flash flooding was noted in Austin, Texas, and surrounding areas, but the precipitation provided much needed water to local reservoir systems, the report said.
According to the Weekly Weather and Crop Bulletin, the official observation site in Austin had the wettest October on record with 13.28 inches. In areas affected by the precipitation event, widespread one and two-category improvements were made in areas of abnormally dry, moderate drought and severe drought with a large portion of East Texas returning to normal conditions.
Most of the West was dry last week with the exception of the Pacific Northwest where one-to-two inches of rain fell across the coastal lowlands of Oregon and Washington. Snow showers were observed over the high elevations of the Cascades, Northern and Central Rockies, and Intermountain West.
According to the Natural Resource Conservation Service SNOTEL network, mountain snowpack conditions are off to a good start in Oregon, northern Idaho, southwestern Montana, Wyoming, and northern Colorado. Early season snowfall and improving moisture conditions led to one-category improvements in areas of moderate drought and severe drought in Wyoming, northeastern Utah, and northwestern Colorado.
In the northern Plains, a generally cool and dry pattern was observed over much of the Dakotas and Nebraska. Near-normal, short-term precipitation totals led to the removal of a small area of abnormally dry in eastern South Dakota.
In the Southern Plains, heavy rainfall was noted across eastern Kansas and eastern Oklahoma. Because the rains fell in areas currently not experiencing drought, continued dryness led to the expansion of an area of Exceptional Drought in southwestern Oklahoma.
In the Midwest, wet conditions were observed over northern Missouri, southeastern Iowa, and central/northern Illinois where two-to-four inches of rain fell late last week. One-category improvements were made in areas of abnormally dry, moderate drought and severe drought in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, and Missouri where streamflow and soil conditions continued to improve. The Upper Midwest remained unchanged on the map for this week.
Source: U.S. Drought Monitor