Drought news


From the US Drought Monitor discussion September 24, 2013:

Weather Summary: Rain lingered in parts of Colorado and neighboring states for a few days in the wake of historic flooding, but mostly dry weather thereafter allowed recovery efforts to progress. However, a flood crest on the South Platte River coursed through northeastern Colorado and southwestern Nebraska, inundating some agricultural lowlands. Meanwhile, the tropical plume of moisture partially responsible for Colorado’s flooding shifted eastward in advance of a cold front. As a result, 1- to 3-inch rainfall totals were common along and east of a Wisconsin-to-Texas line. The rain temporarily halted fieldwork, including harvest activities and winter wheat planting, but aided some late-developing summer crops. Even heavier rain, locally 4 inches or more, curtailed fieldwork but eased drought from central and eastern Texas to the Mississippi Delta. Elsewhere, generally dry weather across the Southwest and the northwestern half of the Plains contrasted with scattered showers from the Pacific Northwest to the northern Rockies. The weather change in the Southwest signaled the end of the summer rainy season, while dry weather on the northern Plains promoted winter wheat planting and other fieldwork…

The Great Plains: Like the Midwest, varying amounts of rain dampened the Great Plains. Heavy rain soaked much of the southeastern half of Texas, while another significant rainfall event drenched northeastern Colorado and neighboring areas. Both areas saw substantial reductions in drought coverage and intensity. However, little or no rain fell in several other parts of the region. In the heart of Colorado’s flood zone, an official observation site in Boulder received 16.69 inches of rain during the first half of September. Boulder’s previous wettest month had been May 1995, when 9.59 inches fell. According to emergency operations reports, Colorado’s flooding claimed seven lives, destroyed nearly 1,900 homes, and damaged more than 16,000 others. Meanwhile, month-to-date precipitation climbed to 6.80 inches in Cheyenne, Wyoming, most of which (5.80 inches) fell from September 9-16. Prior to this year, Cheyenne’s wettest September had occurred in 1973, when 4.52 inches fell. In Nebraska, a record-setting crest on the South Platte River passed Roscoe (3.20 feet above flood stage) on September 20, and arrived 3 days later in North Platte (1.36 feet above flood stage). Previous high-water marks had been observed in June 1995 at Roscoe and in June 1935 at North Platte. The Platte River at Brady, Nebraska, crested 3.23 feet above flood stage on September 23, surpassing the May 1973 high-water mark by more than a foot. Despite all of the rain, rangeland and pastures across some parts of the Great Plains continued to suffer from the cumulative effects of multiple drought years. On September 22, rangeland and pastures were rated at least one-third very poor to poor several states, including Texas (54%), Colorado (43%), Nebraska (40%), and Kansas (36%).

The West: With the 2013 summer rainy season having ended across the Southwest in mid-September, further assessment of the robust monsoon led to additional reductions in drought coverage and intensity in the Four Corners States. In southeastern Arizona, Douglas experienced its greatest monsoon season rainfall on record, with 16.24 inches of rain having fallen from June 15 – September 24. Several other parts of Arizona also experienced near-record to record summer rainfall totals. Farther north, some early-season precipitation from winter-like storms began to arrive in northern and central California and the Northwest. For example, daily-record rainfall totals were noted on September 21 in locations such as Redding, California (1.22 inches), and Roseburg, Oregon (0.56 inch). No changes in the drought depiction were yet introduced in the Northwest, but the region will be monitored as precipitation continues to spread inland. Nevertheless, precipitation is beneficial for newly planted winter wheat, which by September 22 was 59% planted in Washington…

Looking Ahead: An early-season snow storm will wind down on September 26-27 across the northern Rockies, while rain showers will gradually end in the Southeast. Meanwhile, a slow-moving cold front—and its associated surge of cold air—will reach the nation’s mid-section toward week’s end before weakening. A frontal remnant will move into the South and East early next week, while Pacific energy will arrive in the Northwest. Associated with the cold front, late-week precipitation totals of 1 to 2 inches can be expected across portions of the nation’s mid-section. Starting on September 27, heavy precipitation (locally 4 to 8 inches or more) will develop in the Pacific Northwest.

The NWS 6- to 10-day outlook for October 1-5 calls for near- to above-normal temperatures nationwide, except for cooler-than-normal conditions in a small area centered on the Four Corners region. Meanwhile, near- to below-normal precipitation across the majority of the U.S. will contrast with wetter-than-normal weather in the Pacific Northwest and a broad area stretching from the Gulf Coast into the lower Great Lakes region.

From The Colorado Springs Gazette (Garrison Wells):

“There will be some improvement across the area, but we are still well below normal,” said Mark Wankowski, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Pueblo. The wet fall, he added, is no indication that this winter will produce more snow than last year, he added.

“There is no correlation between a wet fall and wet winter,” Wankowski said. “Forecast for the winter is that there is an equal chance of below, above or near-normal precipitation. Basically, it’s up in the air.”[…]

Beating drought in El Paso County depends on mountain snowfall, [Kathy Torgerson] said. And what happens in the mountains this winter will be measured storm by storm. “There’s really no strong signal to drive it one way or the other,” Torgerson said.

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