The National Drought Monitor reflects that it was another mild weather week for all but the southern states, with drought conditions continuing across much of the west, north and east. "Improvements are seen in Texas and some nearby states as a system late in the week brought some heavy precipitation over a two-day period," the monitor explains.
The monitor continues "Record high temperatures in the 60s in South Dakota, Nebraska, and nearby areas were reported on Jan. 5. The warm streak continued over the weekend, and snowfall remained absent." As a resulte, abnormally dry conditions expanded in western South Dakota, near Wessington Springs, SD in the east, and in southeastern Nebraska. "Warm temperatures have increased natural water demand on the top soil layers, resulting in reports of topsoil dryness although there is moisture found deeper in the soil. The mild temperatures have not had much effect on winter wheat, but have led to reduced hardiness in woody vegetation to survive the winter," the monitor reports.
In the Southern and Central Plains, a couple of strong systems plowed through Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana to bring relief during this U.S. Drought Monitor period. "One-category improvements were made across much of Texas, and impact lines were shifted to better reflect the short- and long-term nature of drought in the state," the Drought Monitor explains.
Snowfall totals of more than 10 inches were reported in panhandle region of Texas. As much as three or more inches of rain fell along the Gulf coast from Galveston, TX to Lake Charles, LA, over a two-day period earlier this week, the monitor states. "This warranted removal of Exceptional drought in southwestern Louisiana, and one-category improvements are depicted in this broad area," the monitor explains. Low reservoir levels and other impacts remain, however, and an Extreme Drought situation continues.
The monitor also points out, "One area of worsening conditions is shown in Osage county in northeastern Oklahoma, as a result of slow reservoir response to recent precipitation in the area."
In its outlook, the monitor notes a wetter pattern is welcome in the northern states where the lack of rain and snow has begun to take its toll. For the next U.S. Drought Monitor period, the outlooks show a potential for above-normal precipitation in the northern states, from the Pacific Northwest to the Great Lakes and Midwest. On the other hand, below-normal precipitation for the week is forecast in the southern states, primarily from Arizona to Texas and north to Nebraska, and across the southern tip of Florida, according to the monitor. "This could exacerbate, or at least maintain, much of the drought in that region," the monitor reports.