Drought Monitor Reflects Slight Drought Expansion in Western States

June 20, 2013 02:40 AM

According to the National Drought Monitor, 53.27% of the contiguous U.S. is covered by some form of drought, which is up marginally from 53.07% last week. The slight expansion of drought in the western states lead to the slight overall expansion for the country.

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The monitor notes that changes are noted for many western states, starting with Colorado and Wyoming, where D0 has been degraded to D1 across north central Colorado and extreme southeastern Wyoming. Other changes in Colorado include an advance of D2 and D3 in the eastern half of the state, coupled with an expansion of D2 and D3 in south central and southwestern counties that extends into southeastern Utah. Other western states also saw an increase in drought coverage.

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For the Plains, the monitor notes that all but western Texas saw well-above-normal temperatures last week after a cooler start to the growing season (when compared to the very hot start that plagued the region in 2012). "In fact, readings farther north were 5-8 degrees above-normal across western Kansas and parts of both the Oklahoma and Texas panhandles, with more heat and dry conditions expected to be coming to the region over the next couple of weeks. Rains were scattered and very good for some while not so good for others across the southern Plains. Oklahoma, in particular, continues to see a slow retreat of drought in those counties located along the eastern edge of drought in central and northern portions of the state, including some slight improvement from D4 to D3 across a small portion of the central Panhandle," it states. "However, a very tight gradient remains between eastern (no drought) and western (D0-D4) Oklahoma counties as summer appears on their doorstep. As for changes in Texas, there were many this week, both for the better and worse. In general, counties in central, south central and southeastern Texas saw degradation after the drying trend of the past several weeks and a ramping up of above-normal temperatures for the better part of the past month. An advancement of D0-D3 is seen toward the southeastern coast as a result. Heavy rains brought 1- to 2-category improvements, drastically reducing D3/D4 along the Big Bend region and points south along the Rio Grande corridor. Western Texas and the Panhandle also got a taste of good rains, leading to some scattered improvement and 1-category improvements there, and the same pattern brought changes for the better across central/north central Texas up into the Red River corridor with Oklahoma."

For the Midwest, the monitor reflects continued improvement. "The improvement trend continues this week in both Minnesota and northwestern Iowa where recent rains have led to a general 1-category improvement in both states, including the removal of D2 from south central Minnesota," it states.

In its outlook through June 24, the monitor notes the NWS Quantitative Precipitation Forecast (QPF) is showing good prospects for a nice shot of unseasonably cooler weather across the Pacific Northwest, California and Nevada. The opposite holds true, though, for the southern Rockies region, central Plains, Midwest and Northeast, where readings could soar well above normal. The precipitation outlook during this period shows the best bet for significant totals to fall in the Pacific Northwest, northern Plains, upper Midwest, Gulf Coast and up along the southern Atlantic coast into South Carolina.


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