According to the National Drought Monitor, 35.35% of the contiguous U.S. is drought-free, which is a slight improvement from 33.29% last week and compares to 39.87% a year-ago. The monitor notes that an active weather pattern that included several fronts and storm systems brought precip to much of the nation last week -- especially the Plains.
"Two separate storm systems, one in the Midwest and one in the South, dropped light to moderate precipitation on both areas earlier in the week," the Monitor details. It also noted that as the reporting period ended, a potent storm system had begun producing welcome precip for the north-central Plains and western Corn Belt and that more rain and severe weather was possible for the eastern half of the U.S. "Unfortunately, little or no precipitation fell on the Southwest, northern Plains, and Northeast, although the latter area was expecting precipitation this week," the Drought Monitor adds.
For the Midwest, the monitor notes that the western Corn Belt benefited from light to moderate precip with heavier amounts in excess of 2 inches in some areas. As a result, D0 was removed in eastern Iowa, northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin. East-central Iowa some some areas improve from D1 to D0 and central Iowa saw D2 conditions improve to D1. Missouri also saw slight improvement in the drought profile.
"NWS frost tubes showed that the last of the frozen soils in northern and central Iowa had thawed, and that some farm tiles were running in eastern Iowa and northern Illinois, indicating more subsoil moisture than previously thought. Many USGS stream flows were in the upper 75th percentile," the Drought Monitor explains.
In contrast, the upper Midwest saw no changes in the drought profile as the soils had ice in lower soil layers and snow remains on the ground in North Dakota and the northern halves of both Minnesota and Wisconsin.
On the Plains, soaking rains fell on D2, D3 and D4 areas of Texas, Oklahoma and Nebraska and more fell after the cutoff for this report. This resutled in one-category improvement in many of these areas. However, no rain fell in western or extreme southern Texas. The bulk of Kansas also missed out on heavy rains.
In its outlook for April 11 through 15, the Drought Monitor notes that the eastern half of the U.S. is expected to see wet weather with the South and lower great Lakes expected to receive the most precip. The Southwest and High Plains are largely expected to be dry over this period. Temps are expected to remain below normal for the northern third of the U.S. over the next five-days while above-normal temps are expected in the Southwest and Southeast.