According to the National Drought Monitor, drought covers 54.96% of the contiguous U.S., which is a marginal expansion from last week when 54.76% of this area was covered in some form of drought. This is much better than year-ago, however, when nearly 75% of the contiguous U.S. was covered in drought. There was little change in the drought footprint in the Midwest over the last week, with 51.57% of the region covered in drought. The High Plains saw around a 2.4 percentage-point reduction in drought to 52.43%. The South saw a similar reduction in its drought profile to 66.13%.
The Drought Monitor says widespread precipitation in Minnesota and Wisconsin over the past week led to some improvements in the Midwest. "In Minnesota, improvements were made to the D0 in the northeast portion of the state and to D1 in the central portion of the state. Wisconsin was left unchanged this week as local conditions are improving but not quite to the point of warranting changes to the drought status," the Monitor explains.
On the High Plains, precipitation in northwest Kansas allowed for some improvement to extreme drought (D3) in that area of the state. D1 (moderate drought) was pushed out of eastern areas of the South Dakota and the southern border of Nebraska. "D0 conditions were also improved along the border with Nebraska. In Nebraska, the D0 and D1 conditions were pushed to the south along the entire northern border. A full category improvement was made in the panhandle of Nebraska," the Monitor details.
Thanks to some some widespread rains throughout central and east Texas, the Drought Monitor says improvements were made in many areas this week. But it continues that in and along the reservoir system associated with the Colorado River in Texas, an area of D2 was introduced this week in response to the impact of the historically low reservoirs along the system, water restrictions, and even some communities having to ship water in for consumption. "There has been very little, if any, improvement from recent rains with regard to runoff into the reservoirs. This can be attributed to the 3+ years of drought in the state," the Drought Monitor explains. Recent rains allowed for a full category improvement in southeast Oklahoma as well as some improvement to the D0 in Arkansas, the Monitor continues.
In its outlook for Oct. 24-28, the Climate Prediction Center expects temperatures to be below normal over the eastern half of the United States and above normal over the West. "With a trough setting up over the East, temperatures will be 6-9 degrees Fahrenheit below normal over the Ohio River Valley and 3-6 degrees above normal over the Southwest," the Monitor elaborates. The greatest precip over this period is projected to fall in the Great Lakes and east Texas, with the rest of the country expected to remain fairly dry.