An inch or more of precipitation fell across most of the mid- to upper-Mississippi Valley and Ohio Valley, this Drought Monitor week, shrinking the drought area across the northern Midwest in Minnesota, South Dakota and Iowa.
In Iowa, the above-normal rainfall helped recharge topsoil moisture but subsoil deficits remained. USDA reported that soil moisture and crop conditions improved in most districts of Missouri, except the southwest district, with the percentage of the state having topsoil moisture short or very short dropping to 20%.
D0 was trimmed in parts of eastern and southeastern Missouri, but D1 expanded in southwest Missouri to reflect dryness at the 30-120 day time scales, according to this week's Drought Monitor author Richard Heim of NOAA.
Bands of 2-4 inches of rain fell across parts of the Dakotas, Nebraska, and Kansas this week, but the western portions of Nebraska and Kansas largely missed out on the precipitation, Heim said.
The precipitation that did come replenished topsoil moisture, but subsoil moisture was slow to respond, limiting any improvement, Heim said. USDA observations improved only slightly, with 53% of Nebraska and 67% of Kansas topsoil still rated short or very short of moisture as of April 27.
D0 was pulled back in South Dakota, a D0 hole was added to south central Nebraska, D1 was contracted in eastern Nebraska, and D2 was pulled back in south central Nebraska and north central Kansas. But deterioration occurred in the Nebraska panhandle, where D0 expanded, and in western and southern Kansas, where D2-D3 expanded.
Oklahoma and northern Arkansas both saw rain, though other parts of the South received little to no rainfall, with "extensive dust storms developing across parts of the southern Plains," Heim reported.
All of the drought categories expanded across parts of Texas.
On April 27, the USDA said 78% of Texas and 72% of Oklahoma topsoil was short or very short of moisture. The Oklahoma State research station in Goodwell reported widespread crop loss and destruction, with the abandonment of all dryland winter wheat in Cimarron, Texas.
Widespread precipitation fell along coastal Washington and Oregon, with locally 5 inches or more of precipitation.
Precipitation in other parts of the West was largely hit or miss, with much of southern California, Arizona, and New Mexico getting no precipitation
In the Four Corners area, Heim says, the town of Monticello, Utah has major water supply problems. With their reservoir at a critically low level, groundwater wells were drilled for supplemental supply. Even with conservation, they have at most one season of water supply. If snowpack is low again next year, they will have very little water available for municipal supply.
Southern California continued unchanged this week, with 100% of the area of the state in some form of drought; 24.7% is in the D4 exceptional drought stage.
Source: Richard Heim, NOAA; U.S. Drought Monitor