According to the National Drought Monitor, 76.16% of the contiguous U.S. is covered by some form of drought, which compares to 75.97% last week. Drought conditions especially worsened in the South, where 84.02% is covered by drought, up from 79.04% last week.
"Areas of dryness and drought remained unchanged for most of the (Plains) region, given the cooler and drier time of year. However, areas of deterioration were identified across various parts of Texas, central Louisiana, east-central Missouri, eastern Kansas, and the Panhandles of Texas and Oklahoma. From southeastern Texas through central Louisiana, D1 and D2 expanded to cover areas where precipitation deficits for the last 90 days ranged from 8 to 14 inches. In the Panhandles region, D4 coverage increased as dryland wheat conditions deteriorated. Dalhart, TX received 6.04 inches of rain in 2011 and 6.35 inches to date in 2012. Both of these totals are more than 2 inches below the driest year on record for the previous 62 years (1949-2010; record low for this period was 8.37 inches in 1955)," it states.
In its outlook for December 6-10, the monitor notes a storm system is forecast to traverse the Ohio and lower Mississippi Valleys, bringing at least an inch of rain to a broad area from parts of Mississippi and Arkansas near the Mississippi River northeastward through the Ohio Valley, parts of the southeastern Great Lakes Region, and the northern Appalachians. "Amounts of 2 to 4 inches are possible from near the Mississippi/Ohio confluence northeastward through part of western New York. Farther west, light to moderate precipitation is expected across the central and northern Rockies, the central and northern Intermountain West and the Pacific Northwest, with totals of 1 to 3 inches possible in some higher elevations. Elsewhere, moderate precipitation totals of 0.5 to 1.0 inch are forecast for the central Great Lakes Region, the eastern side of the Mississippi Valley south of Wisconsin, southern Florida, and much of the upper Southeast and interior Northeast," it states. "Light precipitation is expected across the Plains outside of Texas, along the southern Atlantic Seaboard, and in portions of the Great Basin and central California. Little or none is expected elsewhere. Temperatures should average near or above normal throughout the contiguous 48 states, with average daily highs expected to be 9 to 12 degrees F above normal from the upper Ohio Valley and adjacent Appalachians southwestward into the lower Mississippi Valley."