Frozen Soils Prevent Midwest Rains from Easing Drought

January 31, 2013 02:28 AM

According to the National Drought Monitor, 69.73% of the contiguous U.S. has some form of drought, which is a slight improvement from 69.78% last week. This is still well above last year's drought coverage at this time of 58.20%. In the Midwest, 67.2% of the region is under some form of drought, which is steady with last week. The situation is worse on the High Plains where just 4.79% of the region is drought free.

01 31 13 DrMon

The Midwest did see some precip across northeast Iowa, northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin over the last week, but because deficits are major and top soils are frozen, this wasn't enough to ease to make any dent in the drought.

The Plains saw unseasonable warmth, with the exception of the Dakotas over the past week, and all parts of the Plains saw dryness continue. Thus, there was little change to the drought footprint on the Plains. "The relative lack of winter in back-to-back years will certainly place a much greater emphasis on well above-normal spring rains if the region is to have any real chance of shaking this drought. Same song, fifth verse with no changes of note on the map this week in what is now becoming the epicenter of the 2013 drought," the Drought Monitor elaborates.

Dryness and above-normal temps was also the pattern for the South. This resulted in some minor shifts and slight deterioration in drought conditions across most of Texas and southwestern Oklahoma. Arkansas was little changed over the past week, though the Monitor notes the recent wet pattern could bode well for the state.

The National Weather Service HPC five-day forecast calls for a storm system to bring moisture to the Pacific Northwest and the northern Rockies. "Another system will push eastward, bringing with it good chances for 1-2 inches of rain, or more, to the Gulf Coast region, and up the Appalachian spine into the Northeast." Temperatures are expected to remain above-normal for most of the West and the Central and Southern Plains. "Below-normal readings will be most pronounced in the Great Lakes region and unseasonably cool weather is expected to encroach across the rest of the East Coast and down into Florida," the monitor continues.

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