According to the National Drought Monitor, drought covers 83.65% of the contiguous U.S., which is down from 56.60% the week prior and 61.94% three months ago. Two low-pressure systems crossed the country last week. The first system brought light rain and snow to the Mid-Atlantic and northeast, while the second system transversed the Pacific Northwest, Great Plains and the Ohio Valley. Meanwhile, condition remained dry for the most part east of the Cascades to the central Great Plains.
For the Midwest and Central and Northern Plains the monitor notes that recent rainfall resulted in the removal of dry pockets in Indiana, Michigan, Illinois and Missouri. "The streamflows have not responded as much as necessary to remove the D1 (moderate drought) designation for most of this area," the monitory continues.
For the Southern Plains and into the South the monitor states says that heavy rains resulted in the removal of D0 (abnormally dry) from central Arkansas and along the Mississippi River. Texas was a mixed bag as D0 was trimmed across the northeast part of the state as well as in southeast Oklahoma, but other parts of Texas saw drought intensify slightly. "Recent deficits out to the 90-day time period (10% to 25% of normal) are especially strong across northeastern New Mexico and Texas, so some adjustments to the drought depiction were made in those regions," the Drought Monitor elaborates.
In the West, the drought monitor explains that while light to moderate precipitation fell across the northern and central Rockies, the fact that it was frozen means that it had little impact on drought conditions or the water supply. "Surface Water Supply Index values across much of Idaho are in the lowest 30 percentile with many in the lowest 25%. Combined with longer-term rainfall deficits (2.0-8.0 inches below normal) during the past 180 days and 10% to 20% of normal during the past 90 days, the drought depiction including extreme drought was not modified," the monitor details.
In its outlook for Dec. 25-30, the Drought Monitor says it expects moderate precip for extreme southeast Texas and Florida, with totals topping 1.5 inches. "Moderate amounts of 0.5 to 1.5 inches are anticipated across the Great Lakes and New England," the monitor continues. Outside of these areas, conditions are expected to be generally dry. Areas east of the Rockies are expected to see below-average temps.
For Dec. 30 to Jan 3, the Drought Monitor says the odds favor above-normal precipitation from the northern Great Plains to the southern half of Texas eastward to the Carolinas Coast, and from northern New England and the Pennsylvania Appalachians westward through most of the northern half of the Plains and the northeastern Rockies. In contrast, the Central Plains are at enhanced risk for dryness along with the Southern High Plains, the Rockies, the Intermountain West and the West Coast.