According to the National Drought Monitor, 38.27% of the contiguous U.S. is free of drought, which is slight improvement from last week's 37.58%. While drought across the Midwest continues to shrink, slight expansion of drought across the South was seen last week.
The monitor reflects 36.15% of the South drought-free, which compares to 36.77% last week. "Dryness and drought eased significantly in the wetter areas of southeastern and (to a lesser extent) far southern Texas. Many of the former D1 to D3 areas in northern Kansas also improved. On the other hand, D3 and D4 areas increased a bit along the Red River, and D0 to D1 conditions expanded from northeastern Texas into southwestern Arkansas and northwestern Louisiana. Since mid-February, precipitation deficits of 4 to locally over 8 inches have accumulated in northeastern Texas, the adjacent Red River Valley in Oklahoma, northwestern Louisiana, and southwestern Arkansas," notes the monitor.
Meanwhile, the monitor shows 78.29% of the Midwest is now drought free, which compares to 77.96% last week and 68.76% a year-ago.
In its forecast for May 16 through 20, the monitor says heavy precipitation is expected over a broad area covering the northern Rockies, the northern half of the Plains and the Upper Mississippi Valley. "Generally 1.5 to locally 3.5 inches are anticipated in parts of Montana, across all of North Dakota and Minnesota, in all but southwestern South Dakota, and through adjacent sections of Nebraska and Iowa. Moderate amounts of at least 0.5 inch are expected from the eastern reaches of Kansas, Oklahoma, and northeastern Texas eastward through the mid-Atlantic and the Carolinas. One to two inches are possible in eastern Oklahoma, western Arkansas, and much of North Carolina and adjacent southeastern Virginia. In contrast, little or no precipitation is expected over the southwestern quarter of the country and across southern, western, and most of coastal Texas. Light amounts, locally approaching an inch, are expected elsewhere," it states.