Drought Monitor Reflects Slight Expansion in Central U.S.

April 3, 2014 03:54 AM

For the contiguous 48 states, the U.S. Drought Monitor showed 38.37% of the area in moderate drought or worse, compared with 37.27% a week earlier. This compares to a rating of 51.92% a year ago. Minor changes were made for the Southern Plains and Midwest drought area, with slight expansion in central and south-central Kansas, north-central Oklahoma, west Texas, the Panhandle of Texas, southeast Missouri and southern Illinois.

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The South: The monitor reports that during the past week, some moderate to locally heavy precipitation (2-to-4 inches) fell across the southern halves of Alabama and Mississippi, eastern and northern Louisiana, and east Texas leading to improvement in areas of Abnormally Dry (DO) in northern Louisiana and areas of Abnormally Dry (D0) and Moderate Drought (D1) in East Texas. Moving westward in Texas, conditions continued to deteriorate as short- and long-term precipitation deficits and declining reservoir levels raised concern. According to Water Data for Texas, San Angelo Area reservoirs are currently 7.9% full while the Panhandle Planning Region reservoirs are currently 1.7% full. On this week’s map, expansion of areas of Extreme Drought (D3) were made in the Hill Country and portions of West Texas while the Panhandle saw slight expansion of areas of Exceptional Drought (D4) as dry and windy conditions continued to spark dust storms. Temperatures were near-normal to slightly below-normal for eastern portions of Texas to Alabama while the western half of Texas was above-normal during the past wee, it adds.

In the Midwest, the monitor says precipitation was generally light across the region with rain in the Lower Midwest and some locally heavy snow showers in the Upper Midwest. Liquid accumulations were generally less than an inch with slightly greater accumulations in central Wisconsin, the Upper Peninsula, and northern Michigan. Short-term precipitation deficits, pockets of dry soils, and below-normal streamflow activity led to expansion of Abnormally Dry (DO) in southern Illinois and southeastern Missouri while the remainder of the region remained unchanged on the map. According to the NWS National Operational Hydrologic Remote Sensing Center, the total area covered by snow in the northern Great Lakes region was 56.2% as of April 1, 2014. Temperatures across the region remained below-normal during the past week, it notes..

The Plains: As with most of the northern tier, the northern Plains experienced below-normal temperatures and areas of snowfall including blizzard-like conditions early this week in the Dakotas, the monitor reports. According to the NWS in Bismarck, North Dakota, record daily maximum snowfall (8.1 inches) was observed in Bismarck on Monday. In the southern Plains, continued short-term precipitation deficits, declining range and pasture conditions, and areas of below-normal streamflow activity led to expansion of areas of Moderate Drought (D1) and Severe Drought (D2) in the eastern half of Kansas and central Oklahoma where areas of Severe Drought (D2) pushed eastward. Temperatures were generally near-normal to slightly above-normal in the southern portions of the Plains during the past week, it says.

In its outlook for the next seven days, the monitor calls for moderate-to-heavy precipitation accumulations (2-to-6 inches) across the lower Midwest and moderate accumulations (2-to-3) in the South and Southeast. The Upper Midwest, New England, central Rockies, and Pacific Northwest are forecasted to receive accumulations of less than two inches. The 6-10 day outlooks call for a high probability of above-normal temperatures across the West while below-normal temperatures are forecasted across the South, Midwest, and Eastern tier. A high probability of above-normal precipitation is forecast across portions of the Southeast, Mid-Atlantic, New England, northern Plains, and Pacific Northwest while the remainder of the West, southern Plains, and western portions of the South are expected to have below-normal precipitation, the monitor states.





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