According to the National Drought Monitor, drought covers 55.49% of the contiguous U.S., which is virtually unchanged from last week's 55.45% and down dramatically from 73.88 a year ago. For the second straight week, a powerful storm moved across the country and into the eastern U.S. this US Drought Monitor week. This storm followed a similar track along the East Coast to the Thanksgiving Storm of last week. Snow accumulated from the Upper Midwest where Duluth gained over 10 inches from the storm, through the Mid-Atlantic, shutting down government offices in Washington DC, and into New York where Central Park received a trace. The Southern Plains experienced snow, sleet, and freezing rain from the event. The highest liquid precipitation totals fell through the Southeast and in the Tennessee Valley with rainfall in areas of central Alabama received over five inches in a day and well over six inches during the week.
For the Midwest and Central and Northern Plains the monitor says snow that fell this week in northwest Nebraska alleviated some Severe Drought (D2) there. Nearby in southern South Dakota, the snow alleviated some Abnormal Dryness (D0). Large amounts of snow fell in select areas around the Midwest. This led to removal of Moderate Drought (D1) in northern Minnesota and improvements in Abnormal Dryness (D0) in the same areas and carrying over into North Dakota. Lingering drought impacts in northern Minnesota have been changed to “L” to represent their longer timescale impact given the short-term precipitation abundance.
For the Southern Plains and into the South the monitor states recent precipitation improved drought conditions in some parts of Texas. Northwest Texas saw an improvement in Extreme Drought (D3). Southwest Texas saw improvements in Severe (D2) and Moderate Drought (D1) and Abnormal Dryness (D0). Southeast Texas saw improvement in Moderate Drought (D1) and Abnormal Dryness (D0). Northeast Texas saw improvement in Severe Drought (D2). Likewise, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Oklahoma saw improvement in Abnormal Dryness (D0). Conversely, Abnormal Dryness (D0) expanded in southeast Kansas and into west-central Missouri where the last 30 days have been very dry. Abnormal Dryness (D0) expanded in southern Texas and Severe (D2) and Moderate Drought (D1) expanded in central Texas. Lake Brownwood in central Texas is below 58% full and has instituted stage 2 drought restrictions. Moderate Drought (D1) and Abnormal Dryness (D0) also expanded in northwest Oklahoma.
In the West, the monitor states Abnormal Dryness (D0) expanded again this week in the northern Cascade Mountains in Oregon and Washington as well as on the Oregon Coast. These areas continue to miss most of the recent precipitation that has fallen around the Northwest and have significant deficits for the year. Beneficial precipitation has continued to accumulate in Utah. Severe (D2) and Moderate Drought (D1) improved in the central, southern, and eastern part of the state. Further improvements may be necessary in coming weeks through this area and in northern Arizona should precipitation continue. Southeast Montana also saw a decrease in Severe Drought (D2) resulting from the recent precipitation events. The rest of the West remains unchanged this week.
In its outlook, the monitor says during the Dec.12-16, time period, the probability of precipitation is above-normal for nearly the entire eastern U.S. and in the Northwest early in the period. A below-normal chance of precipitation is expected in the rest of the West and spreads to the entire country by the end of this time period. Below-normal temperatures are expected across most of the eastern U.S. with the exception of Florida. Above-normal temperatures are expected for from the Southern Plains extending into New England. An above normal chance of precipitation is also present across areas of the West, particularly in the Southwest. Temperatures are expected to be below-normal across the country, with the exception of the East Coast during this time.
For the ensuing five days (Dec. 17-21, 2013), the odds favor normal to above-normal temperatures across the contiguous U.S. with the exception of a swath from North Dakota, through the Great Lakes, and into New England. Below-normal temperatures are forecast for the previously mentioned part of the North and Northeast as well as across most of Alaska. Above normal-precipitation is likely across the Northern tier of the country and along the East Coast. Below-normal precipitation is expected from throughout the Southwest and into the Southern Plains.