Drought Monitor: Midwest stays dry for harvest

Drought Monitor: Midwest stays dry for harvest

Hurricane remnants bring moisture to East Coast; Midwest remains relatively dry for quick harvest

Hurricane remnants moved through the East this Drought Monitor week but the Midwest remained relatively dry, continuing speedy harvest. The Far West again remains unchanged.

This week's Drought Monitor author David Miskus of NOAA says short-term dryness has been eradicated or reduced in New England and Mid-Atlantic regions, while farther south, the eastern half of South Carolina measured at least 10 inches of rain this week, with more than 20 inches recorded in east-central sections.

Hurricane remnants bring moisture to East Coast; Midwest remains relatively dry for quick harvest (Thinkstock/OzgurCoskun)

All short-term drought was removed from the Carolinas, except an area of D0 and D1 bordering southern South Carolina and southeastern Georgia. Rainfall gradually tapered off as one headed west, with little or no rain measured in Mississippi and western Alabama.

In-between the two extremes, light to moderate showers, with heavier amounts in northern, eastern, and southwestern Georgia and north-central Florida, was enough to trim some of the D0 and D1 in Georgia.

In southeastern Alabama, additional rain on top of last week's deluge effectively created short-term surpluses, thus D0 was removed. Light rain fell on eastern Alabama and southern Florida, keeping them at status-quo, but another dry week and growing short-term deficits in southwestern Alabama expanded D1 there.

While the East Coast was getting soaked, a dry week throughout the Lower Mississippi Valley and Southern Plains worsened short-term dryness and drought. A small area of D0 and D1 in west-central Texas Panhandle was improved a category.

Elsewhere, after much of Texas and Oklahoma endured record May and June rains and flooding that quickly erased the long-term drought, dry and warm weather since early July has rapidly brought back short-term drought.

During the past 90 days, portions of central and northeastern Texas, southeastern Oklahoma, northern Louisiana, southern Arkansas, and west-central Mississippi have measured less than 2 inches, with several sites reporting under an inch.

Accordingly, widespread one-category downgrades were made. According to USDA/NASS statewide statistics on Oct. 4, the percentage of topsoil/subsoil moisture short to very short was: Arkansas (81/74), Mississippi (80/76), Louisiana (69/60), Texas (67/64), and Oklahoma (50/54).


Most of the Midwest saw little or no precipitation except for the Ohio Valley. These rains were enough to reduce or eliminate short-term deficits and improve D1 and D0 by a category in these same areas.

In contrast, where little or no rain fell, short-term dryness expanded based upon 60- and 90-day shortages. This included central and western Missouri into northeastern Kansas, the upper peninsula of Michigan into northern Wisconsin, and western Minnesota.

A slow-moving frontal system in the Northern and Central Plains, embedded with waves of low pressure and ample moisture to work with, produced unseasonably heavy precipitation from the Southwest northeastward into the northern Plains.

The greatest amounts in the Plains included 1-2 inches in central Montana, western South Dakota, and north-central Nebraska. Most of this area, however, was drought free, except for D0 in eastern and central Montana and southwestern South Dakota where the abnormal dryness was reduced.

The same slow-moving storm system in the Great Basin and Rockies also dropped light to moderate rain across parts of northern and central Arizona and southern Utah while tropical moisture from the remnants of Pacific Hurricane Marty generated 0.5 to 3 inches of rain in central and eastern New Mexico and west Texas.

Most of the significant rains fell on non-drought areas.

Little or no precipitation fell across the Northwest as temperatures averaged close to normal. With much of the region in D2 or D3 and the rainy season normally commencing later this month and into November, no changes were made this week.

With September and October normally one of the driest months in California, any significant rain that falls during this time will usually produce large percentages. This was the case this week as Pacific moisture was drawn into most of California and the Great Basin.

Although the rains were welcome and aided in the suppression of wild fire conditions and increased topsoil moisture, it did little for the long-term drought and reservoir storages, thus no changes were made to the drought map.

Drought Monitor: Midwest stays dry for harvest

Source: David Miskus, NOAA/NWS/NCEP/CPC. The U.S. Drought Monitor is produced through a 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.

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