According to the National Drought Monitor, 45% of the contiguous U.S. is free of drought, which is a three-percentage-point improvement from last week. The Midwest, High Plains and South regions also experienced slight drought improvement in the latest week.
The monitor notes the northern half of the Plains experienced a wet week. "At least an inch fell on a broad area from most of Nebraska (except interior western sections), easternmost Wyoming and adjacent Nebraska, the Dakotas, much of central and western Minnesota, and northwestern Iowa. Many of these areas recorded 2 to 4 inches of precipitation, with isolated totals of up to 6 inches recorded in parts of the Dakotas. In the past 30 days, over 4 inches of precipitation has fallen on the central and southern Dakotas, near the Nebraska/Wyoming border, in eastern Nebraska, and in a more broken pattern across Minnesota and Wisconsin. Excessive amounts of 6 to 10 inches were fairly widespread across and adjacent to the central and southern Dakotas, eastern Nebraska, and along the Nebraska/Wyoming border."
Meanwhile, moderate to heavy rainfall was more scattered in southeast Kansas, southwest Missouri, the southern Great Plains and portions of the lower Mississippi Valley west of the Mississippi River. "However, excessive rains of 4 to nearly 10 inches doused southwestern Texas and small areas in east-central and western Texas, and eastern Oklahoma. 30-day totals exceeded 6 inches in numerous areas outside the Texas and Oklahoma Panhandles, with the largest amounts (12 to nearly 20 inches) were observed near the southern reaches of the Texas/Louisiana border," it notes.
In its outlook for October 17-21, the monitor notes that moderate to heavy precipitation is forecast in southeastern Texas and the adjacent lower Mississippi Valley, with totals approaching 2 inches along the coast near Galveston. "Moderate amounts of 0.5 to 1.5 inches are anticipated along the central Carolinas Coast and from the interior Northeast westward through northern and eastern sections of the Great Lakes. Light amounts of a few tenths of an inch are expected in the northern Great Plains, the northern half of the High Plains, the southern half of the Plains, and the eastern tier of the northern Rockies. Light amounts at best are expected elsewhere," it predicts.
For October 22-27, the monitor says the odds favor above-normal precipitation from the southern half of Texas eastward to the Carolinas Coast, and from northern New England and the Pennsylvania Appalachians westward through most of the northern half of the Plains and the northeastern Rockies. "Wet weather is also favored throughout Alaska. In contrast, enhanced chances for dryness exist in the central Plains, a swath across the upper southern High Plains and Rockies, most of the Intermountain West, and the West Coast," it states.