According to the National Drought Monitor, drought covers 55.45% of the contiguous U.S., which is down marginally from 56.18% last week and down dramatically from 76.16 a year ago. Moisture from the intense Thanksgiving week storms helped to alleviate dryness in the East while cool temperatures kept drought conditions from intensifying over most of the contiguous U.S.
For the Midwest and Central and Northern Plains the monitor notes the area remained status quo for the week. Moderate to cool temperatures and areas of frozen soil led to no change in the drought depiction in the region.
For the Southern Plains and into the South the monitor states beneficial rains fell from eastern Texas, through southern Louisiana, and into Mississippi. Areas of Abnormal Dryness (D0) were alleviated in those areas. The lack of precipitation in other parts of Texas led to an expansion of Extreme (D3) and Severe Drought (D2) in the Panhandle and Severe (D2) and moderate Drought (D1) in the southern part of the state. Despite other parts of the region receiving little precipitation, drought status did not change. Cool temperatures helped mitigate impacts from the lack of precipitation.
In the West, the monitor states abnormal dryness (D0) expanded in the northern Cascade Mountains in Oregon and Washington as well as on the Oregon Coast. These areas have missed most of the recent precipitation that has fallen around the Northwest and have significant deficits for the year. The rest of the West remains unchanged this week.
In its seven-day outlook, the monitor says during the Dec. 5-9, 2013 time period, precipitation is forecast along much of the eastern U.S., from the Southern Plains extending into New England. An above normal chance of precipitation is also present across areas of the West, particularly in the Southwest. Temperatures are expected to be below-normal across the country, with the exception of the East Coast during this time. For the ensuing 5 days (December 10-14, 2013), the odds favor above-normal temperatures in the Southeast. Normal to below-normal temperatures are favored across the rest of the contiguous U.S. Above-normal precipitation is likely across most of the eastern third of the country, from the Pacific coast, through the Rockies and into the northern Plains. The eastern Southwest and the Central and Southern Plains, as well as the southwestern Midwest and southern Alaska are likely to see below-normal precipitation.