Drought news: Dryness increases in parts of the southwestern US

US Drought Monitor March 25, 2014
US Drought Monitor March 25, 2014

Click here to go to the US Drought Monitor website for the dreary outlook for much of the southwestern US. Here’s an excerpt:

The Plains

As with the rest of the northern tier, the High Plains experienced below-normal temperatures and light snowfall during the past week. In South Dakota, short-term precipitation deficits led to expansion of Abnormally Dry (D0) in the southeastern part of the state. Further south, extreme eastern Oklahoma received about one inch of precipitation in a few isolated pockets. In western portions of Oklahoma, continued short-term precipitation deficits, low humidity, and windy conditions continued to dry top soils leading to the expansion of areas of Severe Drought (D2), Extreme Drought (D3), and Exceptional Drought (D4). In Kansas, short- term dryness led to expansion of Moderate Drought (D1) in the central portion…

The West

During the past week, several storm systems pushed across the Pacific Northwest delivering snowfall to the North Cascades and northern Rockies as well as portions of northern Colorado while dry conditions prevailed across the rest of the West. Temperatures across the Southwest were above normal and in the Sierra Nevada warm conditions enhanced melting of the already shallow snowpack. According to the Natural Resource Conservation Service SNOTEL network (for the current Water Year starting October 1st), river basin average precipitation was below normal across the mountains of Oregon, northern Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico while above average precipitation was observed across the central and northern Rockies. On the map, short-term precipitation deficits led to expansion of Severe Drought (D2) in southeastern California as well as expansion of a small area of Exceptional Drought (D4) along the coast in Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties. In northwestern Nevada, severely reduced water allocations for agriculture and long-term precipitation deficits led to expansion of Exceptional Drought (D4). According to NCDC Climatological Rankings, Nevada CD 1 (Northwestern) ranked 2nd driest on record for the 24-month period. In Utah and southwestern Colorado, dry soils and below normal streamflows led to expansion of Moderate Drought (D1). In southeastern Colorado, strong winds continued to degrade topsoil conditions and affect wheat crops leading to expansion of Severe Drought (D2) in Baca County. In New Mexico, short-term precipitation deficits and dry soil conditions led to expansion of Extreme Drought (D3) in south-central New Mexico and expansion of Moderate Drought (D1) in southeastern New Mexico…

<strong>Looking Ahead

The NWS HPC 7-Day Quantitative Precipitation Forecast (QPF) calls for 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.

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