Drought Monitor: Prospects for Relief in Southern Plains Declining

October 20, 2011 02:46 AM

According to this week's National Drought Monitor, As we hit the third week of October, precipitation normally begins to decrease in the High Plains, and continues into the winter months. As a result, it is uncommon that widespread, precipitation-drenching storms would occur and alleviate any drought conditions. With that said, however, any precipitation deficits that would accumulate during dry periods would be small, and temperatures and evaporation would typically be much lower than the summer. This week saw mostly dry weather in the southern and central High Plains and near to above-normal temperatures. Farther east, showers and thunderstorms developed and dropped some light to moderate amounts (1 to 2 inches) on north-central Kansas, extreme eastern Oklahoma, and northeastern Texas. Based upon the Texas SPI blends, October rainfall was enough to make a 1-category improvement in portions of the northeastern Texas counties of Tarrant, Parker, Denton, and Wise. The rains that fell farther to the southeast were not enough to overcome this summer’s record heat and long-term drought, and status-quo prevailed. In northwestern Kansas, a re-evaluation of various high-resolution precipitation products depicted a surplus at several time scales (30-, 90-, 180-days), resulting in improvement and removal of drought and dryness there.

Farther north, a 1-category deterioration was made in east-central and southeastern Kansas and northeastern Oklahoma where little or no rain fell this week and where mid-September and early October rains had missed. Similar to Texas, the record heat in Oklahoma and southern Kansas also exacerbated the effects and impacts of the drought.

Meanwhile in the Midwest, A widespread area of 1 to 2 inches of rain fell on much of the Midwest, stretching from southern Missouri northward into the upper Great Lakes region. The heaviest rains fell on the southern and eastern sections of the drought areas, while the western sections saw much lower amounts (less than 0.5 inches). Since the drought areas were mostly short-term deficiencies (past 90-days or less), these rains were beneficial in easing the accumulated deficits. Accordingly, where more than 1.5 inches fell, a 1-category improvement was made, and included most of northeastern Missouri, Illinois, eastern Iowa, southern and northern Wisconsin, northern Indiana, the Upper Peninsula (UP) and northern lower Michigan, and northeastern Minnesota. In central Illinois, D2 remained in Macon County because of water restrictions at Decatur. In southern Missouri, a band of heavy rain (2 to 4 inches) improved conditions by a category, but in southwestern Missouri (1 to 2 inches), the rains were not enough to compensate for impacts made by this summer’s extreme heat and dryness, and D2 remained. The Impact Types were modified in the UP of Michigan (L) and northern Minnesota (SL) based upon the blends and various AHPS and SPI periods. Farther west, the D0 area in southwestern North Dakota was expanded to account for short topsoil moisture due to subnormal precipitation the past 60-days, above-normal temperatures, and windy conditions. Fortunately, these conditions are beneficial for farmers to harvest their crops.

DroughtMonitor 102011

The outlook for the next 5 days (Oct. 20-24) calls for relatively tranquil weather to envelop most of the lower 48 states once the current storm systems in the Midwest and Northeast move out by early Friday. Expect the largest totals (1 to 3 inches) in the northeastern quarter of the U.S., especially Michigan and coastal New England. Five-day temperatures should be above-normal in the western half of the Nation and in northern New England, while subnormal readings cover the Midwest, mid-Atlantic, and Southeast.



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