The National Weather Service's Climate Prediction Center (CPC) expects drought to persist or intensify across the Southwest and Southern Plains due to dry initial conditions heading into the seasonally drier spring season. The forecast dated through May 31 has better odds of drought improvement for the Central Plains and Central Corn Belt "where climatological precipitation increases substantially during April and May."
"Much-needed precipitation brought limited drought relief to parts of the Northwest, the Great Basin and the northern Intermountain West, but drought continued to expand and intensify across parts of California, the desert Southwest and the southern Rockies," states CPC in its Drought Outlook. "Outside of spotty precipitation over southern and western Texas, drought also expanded across much of the Central and Southern Plains, and short-term drought developed along the western Gulf Coast. Widespread precipitation brought drought relief to the eastern U.S."
The CPC also issued its 30- and 90-day outlooks (maps below). The CPC says in its accompanying text comments that in areas where climate signals are weak and/or not reliable, equal chances (EC) of normal, below- and above-normal meat monthly temperatures and precipitation are indicated. The agency predicts much of the Midwest will see below-normal temps in March, while above-normal temps are expected in the Southwest. In its outlook through May, the area of cooler-than-normal temps shrinks slightly, but still includes much of Iowa and Minnesota, northern Illinois northern Indiana, which if realized, would delay the onset of planting season in those areas. Warmer temps across the Southern Plains increases moisture demand for the HRW crop that has seen condition declines through the winter.
CPC Outlooks for March:
CPC Outlooks for March-May: