Hotter temperatures and heavy downpours were common this week across the northern U.S., according the U.S. Drought Monitor, easing drought in some areas but pooling some corn and soy fields.
The heavy rains were centered on the Midwest and into the Northern Plains, where "persistent, repetitive showers and thunderstorms inundated areas from eastern Nebraska and southeastern South Dakota into southern Minnesota and northern Iowa with 3 to 8 inches of rainfall," this week's drought map author Eric Luebehusen of the USDA said.
Rain of this magnitude was sufficient to warrant a rare 2-category improvement, said Luebehusen, eliminating moderate drought and abnormal dryness from the hardest-hit locales. Long-term precipitation deficits linger, however.
In the East Central Plains, locally heavy downpours – with totals averaging 1 to nearly 4 inches – resulted in reduction of severe and extreme drought in central and southern Kansas, says Luebehusen.
Improving conditions over Kansas are also noted in the June 15, USDA-NASS crop condition report, says Luebehusen. Winter wheat, which is beyond benefiting from rainfall, was rated 63% poor to very poor, while corn was only 9% poor to very poor and 50% good to excellent.
In the Southern Plains and Texas, temps were in the 90s, though the region received enough rainfall to warrant reductions in drought from northern and central Oklahoma southward into central Texas, the Drought Monitor said.
Western and northeastern portions of Texas, however, saw small increases due to hot, dry conditions.
In central and northeastern Oklahoma, showers and thunderstorms dropped 1-2 inches of rain. While not nearly enough to warrant widespread drought reduction or removal, says Luebehusen, the rains were enough to improve pastures and summer crop prospects.
Unseasonable warmth and dryness in the West this week increased water demands and further depleted already-meager snowpacks, according to the drought map.
In the Northwest's moderate to severe drought areas, rain was mostly light and insufficient to warrant any reductions in drought intensity and coverage. USDA-NASS on its June 15 report measured Washington's winter wheat as 26% poor to very poor as of June 15, with only 30% rated good to excellent.
In northern and central California, drought intensified on poor 2013-14 Water Year precipitation totals.
In the East and the Ohio Valley to the Atlantic and Gulf Coast States, abnormal dryness and moderate drought was relieved in some areas. Dry conditions, howver, persisted in northeastern Tennessee.
Localized soil moisture shortages are noted in the Carolinas, and in Florida, 2 to 4 inches of rain signaled the onset of the summer rainy season.
Source: U.S. Drought Monitor; Eric Luebehusen