According to the National Drought Monitor, drought covers 58.79% of the contiguous U.S., which is up marginally from 56.02% last week and down sharply from 73.77% a year ago. Improvements across the Midwest were offset by widen drought across the South.
For the Midwest, the monitor notes the deadly cold from that swept across the region over the weekend brought welcomed rains, although the heavier rains generally occurred in streaks. As a result, D0 -D1-D2 were pulled back in east central to northeast Iowa, D0 was pulled back in central Illinois and trimmed in southeast Illinois, and D1 was trimmed in northwest Illinois. D0 was cut in southeast Wisconsin and a little over the border into northern Illinois where 1-2-inch rains eliminated deficits. Widespread 1+ inch rains (with locally heavier amounts) eliminated deficits in the northern portions of Lower Michigan, resulting in the severing of the D0 which left a D0 island in the east and a D0 thumb in the south.
In the Plains the monitor notes the frontal system which swept across the central U.S. last weekend dropped half an inch of moisture across parts of the northern Plains, but the southern parts were dry. D0 expanded across central to eastern Kansas to reflect the meteorological dryness of the last three weeks (low humidity, high winds and limited precipitation) to 90 days (below-normal precipitation) and developing hydrological/agricultural impacts (stock ponds are losing ground and winter wheat is beginning to be negatively affected). In Oklahoma, D1 expanded in the northwest and D2-D4 in the southwest to reflect continued dryness and low soil moisture.
Meanwhile another dry week in the South led to expansion of drought in Texas and Oklahoma. D0 expanded over southwest Texas to reflect 60-day dryness and local burn bans and D2-D3 also expanded there, while D1-D4 expanded in northwest and north central Texas. Improvement was made in the panhandle where D2-D3 were trimmed and in central to east Texas where D0 was pulled back.
In its seven-day outlook, the monitor says to a frontal system is expected to bring an inch or more of precipitation across much of the Southwest, and from the southern Plains (east Texas and southeast Oklahoma), across the Southeast, and to the Mid-Atlantic through November 27. Little to no precipitation is forecast for the Pacific Northwest to northern Plains. Temperatures will be below normal as the front moves across the country. The 6-10 day and 8-14 day outlooks project above-normal temperatures across much of the West and Alaska, and below-normal temperatures in the Southwest and most of the country east of the Rockies, as a circulation pattern sets up consisting of a warm ridge in the west and cold trough in the east. Drier-than-normal conditions are expected for much of the West to the Ohio Valley, with wetter-than-normal conditions across the Gulf of Mexico coast and Atlantic seaboard.