Drought Monitor Reflects Slight Improvement Across Most Growing Regions

September 26, 2013 03:21 AM



According to the National Drought Monitor, drought covers 62.0% of the contiguous U.S., which is down from 64.1% last week. Slight drought improvement was seen across the Midwest on whole as drought now covers 53% of the region, compared to 56.8% last week. But the report also shows "extreme" drought was introduced into western Iowa. Slight drought expansion was noted across Kansas, with 43.9% of the state covered by drought. But slight drought improvement was noted across Texas and Oklahoma.


The monitor notes that precip varied across the Plains, as it notes major flooding in Colorado. "Heavy rain soaked much of the southeastern half of Texas, while another significant rainfall event drenched northeastern Colorado and neighboring areas. Both areas saw substantial reductions in drought coverage and intensity. However, little or no rain fell in several other parts of the region. In the heart of Colorado’s flood zone, an official observation site in Boulder received 16.69 inches of rain during the first half of September. Boulder’s previous wettest month had been May 1995, when 9.59 inches fell," it notes. "According to emergency operations reports, Colorado’s flooding claimed seven lives, destroyed nearly 1,900 homes, and damaged more than 16,000 others. Meanwhile, month-to-date precipitation climbed to 6.80 inches in Cheyenne, Wyoming, most of which (5.80 inches) fell from September 9-16. Prior to this year, Cheyenne’s wettest September had occurred in 1973, when 4.52 inches fell. In Nebraska, a record-setting crest on the South Platte River passed Roscoe (3.20 feet above flood stage) on September 20, and arrived 3 days later in North Platte (1.36 feet above flood stage). Previous high-water marks had been observed in June 1995 at Roscoe and in June 1935 at North Platte. The Platte River at Brady, Nebraska, crested 3.23 feet above flood stage on September 23, surpassing the May 1973 high-water mark by more than a foot. Despite all of the rain, rangeland and pastures across some parts of the Great Plains continued to suffer from the cumulative effects of multiple drought years."

(Click on images below for larger view.)

 south dm092413  ks dm092413


For the Midwest, the monitor reflects scattered but locally heavy showers dampened the Midwest, easing dryness and drought in some areas. "However, rain bypassed other locations, resulting in a Midwestern mix of drought improvement and deterioration," it notes. "In particular, heavy rain nearly erased abnormal dryness (D0) from Ohio and nearly eradicated moderate drought (D1) from Indiana. With 3.44 inches of rain on September 19, South Bend, Indiana, experienced its 11th-wettest calendar day on record. Yet, at the same time, dryness (D0) expanded in southern sections of Indiana and Illinois, while coverage of severe drought (D2) increased in central Illinois. The remainder of the Midwest—including Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, and the eastern Dakotas—also had a variety of changes."

midwest dm092413

In its near-term outlook, the monitor notes an early-season snow storm will wind down on September 26-27 across the northern Rockies, while rain showers will gradually end in the Southeast. "Meanwhile, a slow-moving cold front—and its associated surge of cold air—will reach the nation’s mid-section toward week’s end before weakening. A frontal remnant will move into the South and East early next week, while Pacific energy will arrive in the Northwest. Associated with the cold front, late-week precipitation totals of 1 to 2 inches can be expected across portions of the nation’s mid-section. Starting on September 27, heavy precipitation (locally 4 to 8 inches or more) will develop in the Pacific Northwest," it states.


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