Drought Monitor: Record-Setting Warmth in Midwest Drought Areas

March 29, 2012 02:42 AM

Drought areas of the Midwest -- which extend from northwestern Iowa into northern portions of Minnesota and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula -- reported another week of record-setting warmth (temperatures averaging 15 to 25°F, or more, above normal), reports the National Drought Monitor.


"Despite the arrival of a storm system in the region’s northern tier, rain amounts were generally disappointing (0.5 inch or less). However, isolated, locally heavy showers (1-3 inches) provided some relief from Moderate Drought (D1) in northern Minnesota. In contrast, Abnormal Dryness (D0) was introduced across central Illinois and the northeastern corner of Missouri, where increasing rainfall shortages (90-day precipitation locally less than 50 percent of normal) were noted. Illinois has also reported remarkably low streamflows for this time of year, with streams in the central portions of the state reporting flow rates in the lowest 5th percentile," states the report.

midwest dm032712

In the Southern Plains, moderate to heavy showers across central and eastern drought areas contrasted with unfavorably dry, warm weather in southern- and western-most portions of the region. "1 to 3 inches of rain provided additional drought relief in eastern portions of Texas and much of central and eastern Oklahoma. In eastern Texas, Severe Drought (D2) was removed, with only a small area of Moderate Drought (D1) left to reflect slow-to-recover reservoir levels while the rain alleviated D0 (Abnormal Dryness) in a large part of Oklahoma," states the monitor. "From northern Texas into western Oklahoma, beneficial showers (0.5-1 inch) provided some relief from Severe (D2) to Exceptional (D4) drought. Farther west, the southern High Plains reported 90-degree heat with little if any rain, keeping this region firmly entrenched in Severe (D3) to Exceptional (D4) Drought."

south dm032712

In Kansas, beneficial rain were seen. "A slow-moving disturbance produced 1 to 2 inches of rain over much of central and southern Kansas, with locally up to 3 inches reported in the southwestern quarter of the state," it states. "As a result, 3-month precipitation now averaged 100 to 160 percent of normal across central and eastern Kansas, where D0 (Abnormal Dryness) was removed. Widespread improvements were also made in southwestern Kansas, although the lingering impacts of long-term severe to extreme drought will be slow to be erased."

In the outlook, the monitor says a series of Pacific disturbances will maintain periods of rain and high-elevation snow across the northwestern quarter of the nation, with some light to moderate precipitation also likely in the Sierra Nevada. "Meanwhile, dry, warm weather will prevail from the Plains into the Southwest. However, a developing storm late in the period may provide some locally heavy rain to the nation’s mid-section, although the track, placement, and intensity of this storm system is yet to be determined. In the East, a pair of weak cold fronts will produce mostly light showers, with a swath of heavier rain possible across southern portions of the Northeast," it states.

The CPC 6-10 day forecast for April 3-7 calls for above-normal temperatures across the Rockies and Great Plains, with near- to below-normal temperatures east of the Mississippi and along the Pacific Coast. Drier-than-normal conditions are expected across much of the southern and eastern U.S., including the central Rockies and High Plains, with above-normal precipitation confined to the Pacific Northwest.


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