According to the National Drought Monitor, drought covers 53.36% of the contiguous U.S., which is up slightly from 51.76% last week, but down from 71.74% a year-ago. No change was made to the drought across the Midwest, but expansion in western and southern states was noted.
Across the West, the monitor notes persistent ridging has resulted in record-setting dryness for many locations of California and Oregon. In the Pacific Northwest, the monitor reflects expansion of Abnormally Dry conditions. For the Southern Plains, the monitor notes another dry week was seen, but steady improvement continues to be seen in far southern Texas.
In the Central Plains, the monitor notes, "Bitter cold and snows swept across most of the Plains and Midwest this past week. Given the time of year, frozen soils and lack of impacts, no changes were made on the map this week as the dryness and drought remain freeze dried in place."
In its outlook for Jan. 9-13, the monitor states, "A strong ridge appears primed to set up camp for the next couple of weeks, bringing better prospects for well above-normal temperatures across most of the country. The only notable exception is southwestern Colorado, where temperatures are expected to be slightly below the norm. A strong storm system could bring the first considerable widespread winter event to the Pacific Northwest, particularly the western halves of Oregon and Washington as well as the Idaho Panhandle. Good moisture is also predicted for the southern Plains (eastern Kansas, eastern Oklahoma and eastern Texas), Lower Mississippi Valley, Gulf Coast and the Southeast. The Northeast may also see some good precipitation materialize over this period. The Southwest and northern Plains look to remain dry."
"For the ensuing 5 days (January 14-18, 2014), the ridging pattern looks to remain entrenched bringing better odds of continued above-normal temperatures across the entire West and into the western Plains from Texas northward to North Dakota. New England is another region looking to share in the warmth. Alaska, the Great Lakes and the Gulf Coast appear to be headed for below-normal temperatures. As for precipitation, this pattern tilts the odds toward below-normal for the West and central and southern Plains while Alaska, the northern Plains, Great Lakes and the eastern Seaboard can expect a better chance of above-normal precipitation," it adds.