According to the National Drought Monitor, 54.39% of the contiguous U.S. is covered by some form of drought, up from 52.38% last week but down from 79.98% from a year ago. The rise in the area covered drought came as drought conditions expanded in the South with 73.5% of the region now covered by some form of drought.
The Southern Plains saw several inches of rain fall over central Oklahoma to north central Texas in the last week, the monitor reports. "Seven-day rainfall totals exceeded 2 inches at several Oklahoma stations with 4.54 inches being the heaviest report. Unfortunately, most of the rain fell over areas that were already drought-free. In neighboring Texas, 2-4 inches of rain was widespread in the central to north central counties, with 7+ inches reported in Callahan and Coleman counties and nearly 9 inches falling in Eastland County. A wider area of 1+ inches stretched to the east and south, with bands of 1+ inches of rain in the panhandle," the monitor said. As a result, drought conditions improved in many areas, but the beneficial rain did not fall everywhere.
"Drought or abnormal dryness expanded in parts of southwest, south, northeast, and southeast Texas, as well as eastern Oklahoma where soil moisture continued to decline," the monitor notes. Growing rainfall deficits over the last 30-90 days prompted expansion of drought into Louisiana, Arkansas, and adjoining parts of Mississippi. Further to the north, 30-day rainfall deficits, worsening soil moisture, and warming temperatures resulted in drought expansion in Missouri and Iowa and eastern sections of Kansas and Nebraska, and expansion in northeast Kansas, and expansion in western Nebraska.
Southeast: A half an inch or more of rain fell across most of the Southeast, with locally 2 inches or more in parts of the Carolinas and Alabama. reports the monitor. With rainfall deficits eased, streams at normal levels or above, and the absence of any drought impacts, the remaining spots of drought in Alabama were removed, thus freeing the Southeast of any drought or abnormal dryness on the USDM map, the monitor said.
Southeastern sections of the West saw improved conditions while northern and western parts had deterioration, states the monitor. Monsoon showers, enhanced by moisture from the upper low over the southern Plains, dropped several inches of rain over some parts of Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona. Extreme drought was trimmed in extreme southeast Arizona where heavy rains this week gave Douglas an all-time monthly precipitation record for any month of 7.85 inches of rain so far this July. Improvements were made in New Mexico and Colorado by keeping a balance between above-normal rain in the short term (last 7-30 days) and extreme dryness in the long-term (6-24 months).