According to the National Drought Monitor, 78.5% of the contiguous U.S. is covered by some form of drought -- a one-percent-point decline from last week. The monitor notes minor improvements in parts of the Mid-Atlantic, Midwest and Northeast associated with the passage of a strong cold front during the weekend.
In the Southwest, southerly flows continued to deliver monsoonal rains helping to ease drought conditions over portions of Arizona and the Great Basin. But the monitor notes some worsening of drought conditions continued in the Plains and Texas associated with hot, dry conditions in the region.
Specifically in the Plains, the monitor says persistence of hot and dry conditions led to expansion of Extreme Drought (D3) and Exceptional Drought (D4) in northern and central Oklahoma as well as southeastern Texas. Temperatures soared near 100 degrees, as very windy conditions exacerbated drought in the Oklahoma panhandle. "Rainfall in the Texas’ Hill Country totaled no more than 50% of normal during the last one to two months. Northeastern Arkansas continued to receive rainfall reducing drought intensity from Extreme Drought (D3) to Severe Drought (D2)," it states.
Looking ahead, the five-day forecast is predicting rainfall totals in excess of two inches throughout large portions of Texas and Oklahoma and amounts more than three inches along the Gulf Coast regions of Texas and Louisiana. Portions of drought stricken Colorado, Kansas, and Iowa are expected to receive some modest relief.