This U.S. Drought Monitor week saw an active pattern nationwide as a series of storms delivered much-needed rain and mountain snow to portions of the Southwest, while a wintery mix of freezing rain and snow visited the lower Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, and the Southern Tier from Texas to Georgia.
About 52% of the contiguous U.S. is in some form of drought currently, compared to 53.4% one year ago. About 3.2% is in the most extreme drought rating, compared to just 1.6% one year ago.
Regionally, the Northeast remained drought-free on the drought map this week as cold temperatures and snow continued. As of March 1, the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Boston reported that several locations experienced their snowiest winter on record including Boston (99.4") and Worcester, MA (101.4"), according to this week's Drought Monitor author David Simeral of the Western Regional Climate Center.
The Mid-Atlantic remained drought-free on this week's map, and no changes were made, Simeral said, while improvements were noted in abnormally dry and moderate drought areas in Alabama and Georgia.
In south Florida, some abnormally dry areas were also alleviated, the drought map showed.
The South, meanwhile, experienced unseasonably cold temperatures and a wintery mix of freezing rain, sleet, and snow during the past week, Simeral said.
Rainfall accumulations in portions of Louisiana and Mississippi ranged from 2 to 6 inches leading to improvements in areas of D1. In Arkansas and western Tennessee, improved soil moisture and streamflow conditions led to some one-category improvements.
In Missouri, central Illinois, central Indiana, and Ohio, light to moderate snowfall accumulations were observed.
According to the National Weather Service National Operational Hydrologic Remote Sensing Center snow analysis, the Northern Great Lakes region is currently 99.4% covered by snow with an average snow depth of 13.5" while the Midwest region is currently 38% covered by snow.
The only changes on this week's map in the Plains were made in north-central Oklahoma where short-term precipitation deficits and deteriorating local pond conditions led to expansion of D3 in north-central Oklahoma. In Texas, one-category improvements were made in several areas, the drought map showed.
A series of storms starting late last week impacted the Arizona, southwestern Colorado, southwestern Utah, and northern New Mexico.
On the map, improvements were made in areas of extreme drought along the North Rim of the Grand Canyon and in the Chuska Mountains in the Four Corners along the Arizona-New Mexico border.
In California, the Sierra Nevada Range snowpack remains in very poor condition despite some moderate snowfall accumulations in the central portions during the weekend.
Source: David Simeral/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.