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US Drought Monitor January 28, 2014
US Drought Monitor January 28, 2014

Click here to go to the US Drought Monitor website. Here’s an excerpt:

California

Drought and relatively mild temperatures continue to prevail across the state. In the northwestern part of California, a 1-category degradation from severe to extreme drought (D2 to D3) was made across Humboldt and Trinity Counties. The Central Sierra Snow Lab near the Donner Summit reports 8 inches of snow on the ground, the lowest for this time in January since at least 1946. In the general vicinity of Monterey to Bakersfield, conditions warranted a 1-category downgrade, from extreme to exceptional drought (D3 to D4). A few of the impacts within the D4 area include fallowing of land, wells running dry, municipalities considering drilling deeper wells, and little to no rangeland grasses for cattle to graze on, prompting significant livestock sell off…

Southern and Central Plains

In Texas, much of the eastern Panhandle has received 25 percent or less of normal precipitation in the past 60-days, with some locales in the lowest 5 percent (AHPS). This sizable area of lowest quartile PNP’s extends into western Oklahoma. PNP’s within the second quartile (25-50 percent of normal) are widespread across much of Oklahoma and southeastern Texas. Thus far this month in Oklahoma, Lawton and Frederick have not received any precipitation, and Clinton has received only a trace of precipitation. Subzero dew points have occurred throughout much of January. As a result, 1-category degradations were made within these areas. In northwest Kansas, near the town of Colby, strong winds and blowing dust are being blamed for an 11-car pileup, which resulted in 3 fatalities…

Southwest

In Arizona, another week passed without precipitation. The last measurable precipitation in Flagstaff fell just before Christmas (December 20th). A predominantly dry pattern has been in place since the very beneficial and welcome late-season monsoon rains last September. Impacts are somewhat limited at this time due to lower ET rates during winter, but an increased snowpack in the next two months is needed to preclude more serious problems. SNOTEL Snow Water Equivalent (SWE), as of January 29, 2014, is mostly well below normal across the Mogollon Rim area (ranging from 18-44 percent), and in the White Mountains of eastern Arizona (SWE 27-40 percent of normal). As a result, a 1-category downgrade was made for both areas. In northern New Mexico’s Sangre de Cristo Mountains, SWE’s range from about 56-62 percent of normal. The last significant snowfall event for this region occurred from November 21-24, 2013, when about a foot of snow fell. Continued dryness since that time and fairly low SWE’s prompted a one-category downgrade across much of northern New Mexico up to the D3 designation.

In southwestern Colorado, with declining SNOTEL precipitation percentiles and snowpack percent of normal values, a 1-category downgrade (from no dryness to D0) was rendered to the drought depiction. In northeastern Colorado, a 1-category downgrade (from no dryness to D0) was made over southern Logan County, Washington County, and northern Lincoln County. In northeastern Colorado, the Standardized Precipitation Indices (SPIs) for the past 30 days (0 to -1.0) and 90 days (0 to -2.0) also support these alterations to the depiction. In addition to below-average precipitation from much of November through the present time, high winds have prevailed. There were reports of dry topsoil and blowing dust in Washington County, though some of this is due to management of fields…

Looking Ahead

During January 30-February 3, 2014, locally heavy precipitation amounts (2.5-3.5 inches, liquid equivalent) are expected for the higher elevations of the Cascades, the Sierras, the Bitterroots, the Wasatch, and the Colorado Front Range, which should help to elevate the SWE’s in those areas. Moderate precipitation (0.5-1.5 inches) is predicted across the abnormally dry regions of the central Gulf Coast and lower Mississippi Valley, as well as parts of south-central Florida. Elsewhere, precipitation amounts of less than a half-inch are generally forecast.

For the ensuing 5-day period, February 4-8, 2014, there are elevated odds of above-median precipitation over much of the nation east of the Continental Divide, except for portions of the upper Mississippi Valley and northern Plains, where odds favor below-median precipitation. Below-median precipitation is also favored for California, southern Arizona, and most of Alaska.

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