According to the National Drought Monitor, 74.98% of the contiguous U.S. is now covered in drought, which is down 1.74 percentage points from last week. Last week, two storm systems helped ease drought conditions in the contiguous U.S. The cold front associated with the first storm system brought generally light rains to areas from the northeast to the southern Great Plains. The second storm system developed along the western, trailing end of that cold front, and intensified rapidly over the central Great Plains. Before departing the country to the northeast, this system spread significant amounts of rain from the Panhandle of Oklahoma to the Upper Great Lakes. A cold front, associated with a low-pressure system over Canada, brought a round of precipitation to the Pacific Northwest.
There were many changes to the drought footprint in the Central and Southern Plains for this week. "Significant rains (some reports in excess of 4.5 inches) fell across eastern Oklahoma, northwestern Arkansas, southwestern Missouri, Nebraska, Kansas and Iowa," the monitor reports. This resulted in broad, one-category improvements were implemented across these regions. "Across Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas and Iowa, the improvements were made across areas the received in excess of 1.5 inches of precipitation. As noted by the Nebraska state climatologist, the areas of Nebraska that are annotated as receiving the most improvement were the same areas the received rainfall (1 to 4 inches) during September," the monitor elaborates.
Significant rains (0.5-4.1 inches) also fell across lower Michigan, with slightly higher amounts reported over central Wisconsin. "Based on that recent rainfall, moderate drought was removed from the lower portion of Michigan and the western most portions of the Upper Peninsula. The area of abnormal dryness was also scaled back across most of Michigan, with areas of D0 remaining over southern Michigan, the western UP, and where the D1 (moderate drought) was indicated last week, as rains were not enough to justify to two-category improvement," according to the monitor.
Across central Wisconsin and southeast Minnesota, the Drought Monitor reports rains of 2-4 inches (3-6 times the normal amount for the week) prompted a broad one-category improvement. Other portions of southern Wisconsin miss out on the rains, so areas receiving less than 2.0 inches of rain were largely left the same as last week.
After a dry week, minor expansions of extreme drought were pursued this week across eastern South Dakota and western Minnesota, as those areas missed out on the rains the fell south and east.
Light rains recently fell across the Ohio Valley. When coupled with a recent wetter pattern during the past 60-days, the recent rains allowed for the removal of some moderate drought (D1) across Indiana, Ohio and northern Kentucky.
The National Weather Service forecasts call for a fairly wet pattern across the northern tier of the contiguous 48 states and some rains across the Midwest over the next five days.