For the contiguous 48 states, the U.S. Drought Monitor showed 38.27% of the area in moderate drought or worse, compared with 37.48% a week earlier. The monitor reports that 48.02% of the area is drought-free, compared to 48.53% the previous week and 34.96% a year-ago. Minor changes were made for the Midwest drought area, with the drought area of the South and High Plains expanding by a percentage point and minor improvement noted in the West.
The monitor notes that extreme eastern Oklahoma received about one inch of precipitation in a few isolated pockets and dry conditions lead to expansion of drought and increased drought intensity in western portions of Oklahoma. Expansion of moderate drought was noted in central Kansas.
The Midwest continued in a pattern of below-normal temperatures and snow showers during the past week, states the monitor. "In the Upper Midwest, temperatures plunged during the weekend with some areas experiencing average temperatures up to 15 degrees below normal with International Falls, Minnesota setting a daily low temperature record (-26°) on Sunday morning according to the NWS in Duluth. A daily maximum snowfall record (6.9 inches) was set in Duluth on Friday as well. According to the NWS National Operational Hydrologic Remote Sensing Center, the total area covered by snow in the Northern Great Lakes region was 73.9% as of March 25, 2014. Conditions across the Midwest remained status quo on this week’s map," it states.
In its outlook for the next seven days, the monitor says to expect moderate-to-heavy precipitation across northern California, the Pacific Northwest and the Northern Rockies of Idaho and Wyoming. "Across the South, precipitation accumulations of one-to-two inches are forecasted while greater accumulations (two-to-four inches) are expected across portions of the Northeast. The 6-10 day outlooks call for a high probability of above-normal temperatures across most of the West and Southern Plains while the Northern Plains, Upper Midwest, and Eastern Seaboard will be below-normal. A high probability of above-normal precipitation is forecasted across most of the northern tier of the Lower 48 while the Southwest is expected to have below-normal precipitation," is states.