According to the National Drought Monitor, drought covers 55.46% of the contiguous U.S. is covered by some form of drought, which compares to 56.55% last week. The monitor reflects a very small change in the drought status across the Midwest and West, with a little more substantial improvement noted across the Plains and South. The monitor notes that significant precip across portions of the West were seen, although the impacts were only short-term, as large precip deficits continue to linger.
Across the High Plains, the monitor says 54.60% is covered by drought, down from 56.85% last week. Meanwhile across the South, 61.52% is still covered by drought, down from 62.74% last week, although the heart of winter wheat country is still covered by drought. The monitor notes, "With the exception of light to moderate snows from the Oklahoma Panhandle northeastward across Kansas, southern Nebraska, and into Missouri and Iowa, and light rain in eastern Texas, little or no precipitation fell on the remainder of the central and southern Plains. Fortunately, normal precipitation totals are relatively low during the winter months, so accumulating deficits were also low. In central and eastern Kansas, where snow amounts were highest (liquid equivalent 0.5 to 1 inch), enough precipitation fell to produce 60-day surpluses from south-central to northeastern Kansas, thus improving drought by one category in south-central and northeastern Kansas. Elsewhere in Kansas, Nebraska, and western Oklahoma, the amounts were lighter or 60- to 90-day shortages still existed, so status-quo was kept. In Texas and southern Oklahoma with little precipitation occurring and normals low, most sections maintained their condition."
The monitor adds that a few areas of Texas saw further drought deterioration, which included southeastern Texas (D2 expansion), east-central Texas (D0 increase), southwest Texas (D3 merged), and D3-D4 increase eastward along the Red River where USGS flows are at 7-, 14-, and 28-day record lows.
In its outlook for February 13-27, the monitor notes even though an active weather system is moving across the U.S., it appears the southern half of California will miss out on the precipitation. "Decent precipitation should also fall on Idaho and the western parts of Montana and Wyoming. Light snows are expected for the northern Plains into the Great Lakes region and Ohio Valley. Dry weather is forecast for the southwestern quarter of the nation. Much above-normal temperatures should envelop the western half of the U.S. while subnormal readings are expected in the northeastern quarter of the country," it states.
For February 18-22, the monitor says the odds favor above-median precipitation across the northern half of the nation, with the greatest probabilities in the Northwest and Great Lakes region. "Below-median precipitation is favored across the southern third of the U.S., especially in the Southwest and Southeast. Above-median temperatures are likely east of the Rockies, while the odds for sub-median readings are probable in the Far West," it states.