The National Drought Monitor reflects a few additional improvements in the drought depiction were made on the Central Plains in the wake of the Dec. 19 and 20 storm event.
The monitor continues, "A second storm followed the Dec. 19-20 event, resulting in substantial snow (and some drought relief) on the southern High Plains. Pueblo, CO, was affected by both storms, reporting 16.0 inches of snow from Dec. 19-22. Farther south, Dec. 22-24 snowfall reached 10.0 inches in Roswell, NM, and 6.4 inches in Midland, TX. By the morning of Dec. 25, snow depths included 8 inches at Roswell and Clayton, NM, as well as Pueblo, CO."
"As a result of the widespread snowfall," the monitor reports "the core area of exceptional drought (D4) centered over western Texas and southeastern New Mexico diminished in size. As more precipitation has fallen, the focus of the southern Plains’ drought has begun to shift toward groundwater recharge, reservoir replenishment, and long-term recovery from the damage done to rangeland and pastures."
Meanwhile, the monitor notes unseasonably mild, dry weather persisted in the areas affected by dryness (D0) and drought (D1 and D2) in the Northern Plains and Midwest. "Since this region’s normal winter precipitation is typically very light, changes in the drought depiction have been, and will continue to be, very gradual," states the monitor.
In its outlook for Dec. 29 to Jan. 2, the monitor says a pattern change will bring an increase in storminess to the nation’s northern tier, while little or no precipitation will fall across the southern two-thirds of the nation. "Five-day precipitation totals could reach 2 to 8 inches in the Pacific Northwest and 2 to 4 inches in the northern Rockies," according to the monitor. Generally light precipitation will fall from the northern Plains into the Northeast, with some locally heavier snow in the Great Lakes region, according to the monitor. "Much of the U.S. will experience near- or above-normal temperatures through week’s end, but colder air will arrive in the East early in the New Year," the National Drought Monitor explains.