The National Weather Service's Climate Prediction Center (CPC) has updated its Seasonal Drought Outlook this morning, calling for some drought improvement across the western Corn Belt, but for persistence of drought from Kansas southward. It notes that spring-time brings an increase in precip across much of the country and says in the north-central Rockies and Central Plains, 30% to 40% of yearly precipitation falls on average during spring, mainly due to the wet May.
But the drought outlook goes on to say, "Regarding the large area of extreme to exceptional drought in the nation's midsection, precipitation normals increase significantly later in the forecast period, and precipitation then will be the primary driving factor behind the Drought Monitor depiction for the end of May. Still, with significant precipitation forecast in parts of the Central and Upper Plains through mid-March -- on top of the rain and snow observed in late February -- it seems likely that at least some surface moisture increases will be observed. Therefore, some improvement was forecast for much of the northern half of the Plains. With only one month of the wet season included in this forecast period, more substantial, longer-term improvement is unlikely.
Additionally, the three-month outlook favors below-median precipitation across roughly the southwest half of the extreme to exceptional drought area. There are equal chances for wetness and dryness in the rest of the area."
The updated Drought Outlook map reflects a notable shift in the area of "expected improvement," but it's also important to note that drought -- in some form -- is expected to linger in this key production area. It also suggests that recent moisture improvement across the Central and Southern Plains are only temporary, and stress to the HRW wheat crop will resume and intensify as it continues to come out of dormancy.