This U.S. Drought Monitor week saw improvements along the West Coast this week, the first significant precipitation event to affect California since mid-December, this week's drought map author David Simeral of the Western Regional Climate Center said.
Temperatures during the past week were well above normal in the western half of the conterminous U.S. with record high temperatures observed across the West and Central Plains. In contrast, the Northeast remained in a cold, snowy pattern with areas of Massachusetts, New York, New Hampshire, and Vermont receiving more than a foot of new snowfall.
No changes were noted in the Northeast, again leaving the region drought-free. The Mid-Atlantic also remained drought-free on this week's map.
The Southeast continued in a dry pattern with the exception of some shower activity in north-central and west-central Florida, expanding areas of Abnormally Dry.
The Midwest was generally dry with the exception of snowfall in northern Michigan and northern Ohio. On this week's map, short-term precipitation deficits during the last 90-days led to expansion of areas of Abnormally Dry and Moderate Drought across central and eastern Kentucky as well as areas of Abnormally Dry in southwestern Missouri where streamflow and stock pond levels continued to drop.
Drought changes in the Plains included expansion of Abnormally Dry into western South Dakota in response to above normal temperatures and precipitation deficits during the past 30 days, the Drought Monitor said.
In southeastern Kansas, some minor expansion in an area of Moderate Drought occurred in response to warmer temperatures and deterioration in local stock pond levels.
Continue reading after the jump >>
Generally dry conditions prevailed across most of the South with the exception of some light shower activity (less than one inch of accumulation) along the Gulf Coast regions of Louisiana and Texas.
Unseasonably warm temperatures during the last 30 days led to some minor degradation of areas of Moderate Drought and Severe Drought in the northern portion of the Texas Panhandle, according to the drought map.
In north-central Texas and the Hill Country, many of the area reservoirs are at or near historic lows for this time of year.
In the West, a series of strong Pacific storms came ashore late last week and continued throughout the weekend. This storm system – which tapped a conveyor-belt of warm, moist air from the subtropics – delivered widespread, heavy rainfall to northern California and the western portions of Oregon and Washington.
In response to the storm, a one-category improvement was made to areas of Extreme Drought in northwestern California as well as in the Santa Cruz Mountains and in the northern half of the Santa Lucia Range along the Central Coast.
No changes were made on the map in the Sierra Nevada Range because snowpack conditions remain well below normal.
In the Pacific Northwest, the same series of storms brought heavy rains to western portions of Oregon and Washington leading to one-category improvements in southwestern Oregon.
Source: David Simeral, Western Regional Climate Center/ 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.