Drought news: 3 years of early March maps from the US Drought Monitor #COdrought

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

The Central and South-Central Plains

Another week of below-normal precipitation affected the region, causing dryness and drought to generally persist and locally worsen. Between 0.25 and 1.0 inch of precipitation was measured from central Oklahoma northeastward into south Missouri, and in the central High Plains near the Rockies; otherwise, a few tenths of an inch fell, at best. Given the time of year, few changes were made in northern parts of this area, with more increasing areas of deterioration observed moving southward toward the Red River Valley. Severe drought expanded in central Nebraska, and D1 expanded considerably eastward from central Oklahoma to southeast Kansas. Over the past 60 days, precipitation totaled 3 to 6 inches less than normal across central and east Oklahoma, southeast Kansas, north and west Arkansas, and south Missouri. Both 60- and 90-day amounts are only half of normal at best across the south-central Plains approaching the Red River Valley and Texas…

The Central and Southern Rockies

Generally 0.5 to locally 2.5 inches of precipitation fell on the higher elevations in central and western Colorado, and central Utah. A few tenths of an inch fell on much of Wyoming, north New Mexico, and east-central Arizona, and little or none fell elsewhere. Improvement was introduced in parts of Colorado and Wyoming, where relatively wet patterns have been established for some time now. Conditions changed little elsewhere. Snowpack was considerably above normal in central Colorado, and near to a bit below normal in south Colorado, north-central New Mexico, and much of Utah. Very low snowpack – less than 25 percent of normal – was observed across higher elevations in Arizona and New Mexico. A lack oc water availability isn’t a widespread issue, but a few smaller systems are struggling to keep water flowing. In Utah, the water availability index in the Weber River, Provo, and San Pitch regions is below the 5th percentile level, but other regions are faring better…

The Intermoutain West and Far West

Heavy precipitation again pelted the northwestern and northeastern parts of this region, but dryness persisted farther south. Drought remained in the exceptional range in parts of California and northeast Nevada.

Over 3 inches of precipitation fell from the northern Sierra Nevada and the Cascades westward to the Pacific Coast, with 5 to 10 inches reported in the higher elevations of the Cascades and in northeast California. As a result, D0 and D1 was reduced in western Washington, as was some D2 in southwest Oregon, but from Oregon southward, obvious relief was not as widespread and snowpack remained very low.

In central and northern Idaho and some areas in nearby Washington and Oregon, 2 to 6 inches of precipitation was common. Conditions have improved in these regions significantly in the past few weeks, thus broad areas of improvement were introduced.

In contrast, dryness and drought persisted farther south, where precipitation was lacking. Between 1 and 3 inches fell on the central and southern Sierra Nevada, but little or none was reported from western Utah, northern Nevada, and central California southward. Snowpack remained under 70 percent of normal roughly south and west of a line from northeast Oregon to north-central New Mexico, and was less than half of normal in southern Oregon, the Sierra Nevada and southern Cascades, northwestern Nevada, southwest Utah, and the higher elevations of Arizona and New Mexico.

Water supplies are also being affected. Small-scale water supply systems serving at least 17 California communities are struggling to keep water flowing out of taps. The large Southern California Metro Water District is expected to draw about 20 percent more water than usual from Lake Meade (water it had banked in wetter years). As of March 6, the four large reservoirs on the periphery of the southern half of the San Joaquin Valley held 35 to 50 percent of their normal quantity for the date while reservoirs farther north along the central California Valley held 55 to 75 percent of normal…

Looking Ahead

The next 5 days (March 12-16) should bring moderate precipitation (0.5 to 2.0 inches) from the lower Mississippi Valley eastward across the Southeast. New England, far northwestern Washington, deep south Texas are expected to measure 0.5 to 1.0 inch. Light amounts of up to 0.5 inch at best are expected elsewhere.

For the ensuing 5 days (March 17-21), the odds favor above-normal precipitation along the immediate East Coast and in part of the Alaskan Panhandle. In contrast, there are enhanced chances for drier-than-normal conditions in a broad area covering much of the central and western states. Specifically, along a stripe from the Ohio and middle Mississippi Valleys westward through the central Rockies, California, and Oregon…and from there southward to the Mexican border and Gulf of Mexico coast. Neither wet nor dry conditions are particularly favored anywhere else.

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