According to the National Drought Monitor, 34.33% of the contiguous U.S. is drought-free, which reflects minor improvement from 33.62% last week. Very minor improvement was reported in Kansas, where "exceptional" drought shrank by just 0.15% with the entire state still covered by some form of drought. In Oklahoma, "exceptional" drought shrank by 2.26% to 9.54% and Texas saw slight expansion of drought, with "exceptional" now covering 7.41%, up from 5.17% last week.
Regarding conditions across the Southern Plains, the monitor notes: "Most of the changes to the Southern Great Plains were increased in the drought coverage and intensity across Texas. The Office of the State Climatologist for Texas reported that February as a whole was largely drier than January, and evidence of this can be seen as the 2 and 6-month SPI blend time scales tend toward drier values. The reservoir situation continues to be poor — while the eastern half of the state is comparatively well-off, west Texas continues to suffer, contributing to the persisting record-low reservoir conservation storage. Southern Texas was especially dry, with single digit relative humidity values and high winds prompting an expansion of all drought categories across this region. The lone area of improvement (reducing the intensity of drought) was made to the Panhandle of Oklahoma. Precipitation has been above normal for the past 30 and 60 days, with a significant rain event last week. Minimal improvement was measured in local soil moisture, so D3 (extreme drought) was retained for Cimarron County."
Regarding conditions across the Midwest, the monitor notes that moderate precipitation (0.5 – 1.5 inches) fell across parts of Missouri and southern Illinois, improving ponds and lakes. "Significant precipitation has fallen across Minnesota and Wisconsin during the past 90 days, but most of it is sitting on top of the frozen ground, locked away in the snowpack. The scenario is the same across much of northeast Iowa, so no changes were made across the entire region," it states.
In its outlook for March 7 through 11, the monitor notes that moderate to heavy precipitation is forecast from the lower Mississippi Valley to the Mid-West, and across portions of the Central and Southern Rockies. "Additional precipitation is likely for the northeast (early in the period) and the Pacific Northwest (episodically during the entire period. Beyond that timeframe, drier-than-median conditions are favored across the southern tier of the CONUS and southern Alaska, as the main storm track is forecast along the U.S.-Canada border," it states.