Drought conditions this week are improving by just a few tenths of a percent, according to the latest report out Thursday from the U.S. Drought Monitor.
Last week, the area of land in drought jumped by nearly 1%, with 55.87% of the U.S. in some form of drought, compared to 54.96% the week before. This week, only a minor improvement was noted as the percentage slipped back down to 55.12%.
That improvement may be attributed to widespread showers across much of the U.S., with particularly heavy showers in the South, which continues in drought.
Portions of Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas each received heavy rain, with the heaviest accumulations in East Texas, South Central Texas, and the Upper Gulf Coast region. Rainfall amounts there ranged from two to six inches with some isolated locations receiving 10 to 12 inches.
In the Southern Plains, the same system delivered heavy rainfall across eastern Kansas and eastern Oklahoma, the Drought Monitor reports. In southwestern Oklahoma, continued dryness led to the expansion of an area of Exceptional Drought in Harmon County. During the past week, temperatures in the southern tier were slightly above normal.
The Northern Plains experienced near-normal, short-term precipitation totals, leading to the removal of a small area of Abnormally Dry in eastern South Dakota.
In the Midwest, two to four inches of rain fell across portions of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, and Missouri helping to ease drought conditions. One-category improvements were made in areas of Abnormally Dry, Moderate Drought, and Severe Drought in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, and Missouri where streamflows and soil conditions continued to improve. The Upper Midwest remained unchanged on the map for this week, the Drought Monitor says. Overall, temperatures throughout the region were slightly above normal.
In the West, a cool and dry pattern was observed over most of the region with the exception of rain in the coastal lowlands of Oregon and Washington and mountain snow showers across the Cascades, Central and Northern Rockies, and Intermountain West.
According to the Natural Resource Conservation Service SNOTEL network, mountain snowpack conditions are off to a good start in Oregon, northern Idaho, southwestern Montana, Wyoming, and northern Colorado. Early season snowfall and improving moisture conditions led to one-category improvements in areas of Moderate Drought and Severe Drought in Wyoming, northeastern Utah, and northwestern Colorado. The vast majority of the West experienced below normal temperatures during the past week.
On the other side of the country, The Northeast saw some minor improvements as modest rainfall and lake-effect snow fell across the region leading to the removal of some areas of Abnormally Dry in New York State. Short-term precipitation deficits led to expansion of areas of Abnormally Dry in northeastern Pennsylvania. The rest of the region remained unchanged on the map for the week.
Source: UNL Drought Monitor, David Simeral, Western Regional Climate Center