Drought Monitor: Some Improvement in the Midwest

November 17, 2011 01:42 AM

Recent storms in the Midwest are reflected by this week's National Drought Monitor, as last week's rains replenished surface water supplies across this region, and also helped to recharge soil moisture after the recent harvest. According to the monitor, 78% of Iowa is covered in some form of drought, compared to 86.4% last week.

"A sharp delineation exists between areas like western Illinois and southeastern Iowa which received beneficial precipitation, and the much drier conditions of northwestern Iowa, northeastern Nebraska, eastern South Dakota, and southern Minnesota," states the monitor. "For these latter areas, short-term (3-month) SPI values reveal substantially worsened conditions during this period, most notably centered over southern Minnesota and extreme eastern South Dakota. A continued lack of rain also warranted a one-category deterioration (from D0 to D1) over the remainder of Cook County in extreme northeastern Minnesota."


Meanwhile, the monitor reflects only minor improvement in Texas, where widespread dryness persisted and only scattered showers were seen in part of north-central, northern and eastern Texas. Meanwhile in Oklahoma, October through early November rains have replenished soil moisture in most of the state except primarily for west-central/northwestern and southeastern Oklahoma.

"In the past two weeks, a number of reservoirs in eastern Oklahoma have rebounded substantially. Along the Red River however, places like McCurtain County, still suffer from 3-month precipitation deficits ranging from 6-12 inches," states the monitor. "Along the northern border, the area of extreme drought (D3) in southern Kansas was extended southward into northeastern Osage County, and northern portions of Washington and Nowata Counties in Oklahoma. Skiatook Lake (Osage County) has not seen an increase of inflows like the other lakes farther east and south, and sub-soil moisture is still extremely dry. Two-month precipitation is running around 60-percent of normal, as this region has missed much of the autumn rains. In east-central Kansas, moderate rains (0.5 to 2 inches) fell this past week, but surface water supplies remain in serious condition."

The outlook over the next five days (November 17-21) calls for temps to drop as much as 15-20 degrees below normal across the northwestern quarter of the lower 48 states, and rise 10-15 degrees above normal from the southern Great Plains to the Great Lakes region. Moderate precipitation (0.5 to 2 inches) is anticipated from northeastern Texas and eastern Oklahoma generally eastward and northeastward to the mid-Atlantic region.



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