According to the National Drought Monitor, 57.23% of the contiguous U.S. is covered by some form of drought, which reflects improvement of around one percentage point from last week. While areas of the Plains and South experienced slight drought improvement, drought expanded across the Corn Belt.
According to the monitor, while some good rains were seen in portions of western Missouri and eastern Iowa, the rest of the region was generally dry. "As with other locations, the cooler July temperatures helped to alleviate many concerns over the dryness. In Iowa, the D0 was expanded farther to the east in the central portion of the state, and some discussions took place about introducing moderate drought this week in western Iowa," it notes. "Short-term dryness in portions of central Minnesota allowed for the expansion of D0 there this week. The heavy rain that brought relief to portions of Oklahoma and Arkansas also impacted southern Missouri and allowed for the removal of the abnormally dry conditions that previously existed."
Meanwhile for the Plains, significant rain over central to southeast Kansas allowed for a full category improvement this week. "A large portion of Kansas recorded more than 4 inches of rain this week with a series of rain events. In portions of northeast Kansas and southeast Nebraska, some areas did pick up 2 or more inches of rain this week. Improvements were held off as these same areas were still below normal for July and have deficits of 4-6 inches over the last 60 days. In western Nebraska, a small area in the panhandle saw D3 improve to D2 this week. In the Dakotas, the short-term dryness continues in many areas," it notes. "Abnormally dry conditions were expanded in central North Dakota, while D0 and D1 conditions were expanded in southeast South Dakota. The D3 conditions in southwest South Dakota expanded in response to the dryness this week as well."
Further south, the monitor notes that several rain events this week brought significant precipitation to the region in portions of Oklahoma and Arkansas. "A full category improvement was made to the drought status in western Arkansas, eastern Oklahoma and central Oklahoma, where the rain amounts generally exceeded 3 inches for the week. In western Oklahoma, the D4 in Cimarron County was improved to D3 as the recent rains have allowed for some green up in the region. Improvements were made in portions of west Texas with the benefit of the active monsoon and in portions of the panhandle where local rains warranted improvements," it states.
In its outlook for the next five days (July 31-August 4), the monitor states that temperatures will continue to be cool over much of the U.S., with departures from normal in the 3-6 degrees Fahrenheit range over the Northeast, Midwest, northern Plains and West Coast. The warmest temperatures are expected over the South. The active rain pattern will continue over much of the eastern half of the United States. Rainfall of more than an inch is projected over areas from Nebraska eastward, including much of the East Coast. The monsoon rainfalls over the desert Southwest will likely continue into next week. Most of the West and Texas are expected to stay dry during this time.