Drought Monitor Reflects Improvement Across Texas

January 17, 2013 02:26 AM

According to the National Drought Monitor, a four-percentage-point improvement was seen to drought across Texas last week, but there's still a long ways to go toward total drought relief as 90.52% of the state is still covered by some form of drought. Some slight improvement was also seen across the Midwest, as 30.19% of the region is now drought-free, a two-percentage-point improvement from last week.

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The southern portions of the Midwest received heavy rainfall during the past seven days. "Substantial precipitation was concentrated over southern Illinois, Indiana, western Kentucky, and southeastern Missouri with totals ranging from two to five inches. Improvements were made in southeastern Missouri from Severe Drought (D2) to Moderate Drought (D1) as well as a south and westward retreat of Moderate Drought (D1) in southern Illinois, western Kentucky, and southeastern Missouri. Much of the Upper Midwest -- including Iowa, Minnesota, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and Wisconsin --remained dry," it states. "Temperatures throughout the region were well above normal for the period.

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The Plains saw an overall dry pattern over the past seven days, with the exception of Oklahoma and southern Kansas, which saw light to moderate rainfall. This led to some improvement in Extreme Drought (D3) in Oklahoma. But in the north-central part of the state, ongoing dryness and record low reservoir levels led Payne County to declare a state of emergency. The Monitor continues, "In south-central Kansas, recent rains led to a minor reduction in an area of Exceptional Drought (D4), while the rest of the Plains region is unchanged on this week’s map."

Widespread, heavy rain in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas resulted in an improved drought profile for the region. The Monitor elaborates, "Areas of Exceptional Drought (D4) and Extreme Drought (D3) saw categorical improvements in the Hill Country, north-central Texas, the Panhandle, and South Texas. East Texas and southwestern Texas saw areas of Abnormally Dry (D0) return to normal condition while areas of Severe Drought (D2) and Moderate Drought (D1) in the Coastal Plains retreated westward." The rains helped areas of Mississippi return to normal conditions and led to improvement in drought ratings for western Arkansas and western Tennessee.

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The NWS five-day Quantitative Precipitation Forecast (QPF) shows moderate precipitation amounts over the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic states, while snowfall is expected over the North Plains, Upper Midwest, and New England. Looking ahead to the 6 to 10-day outlook, there is a a high probability of below-normal precipitation across much of the contiguous U.S., excepting parts of the Upper Great Lakes region and the southern half of Alaska. Temperatures over this period are expected to be below-normal in the eastern U.S., especially in the Midwest and New England areas. Most of the West is expected to see above-normal temps, with the exception of intermountain regions.

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