#COdrought news: Wet monsoon season?

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

The Plains

Heavy rains fell across western, northern and eastern Nebraska last week, leading to significant improvements in the Panhandle, where D0-D2 have been pushed back to the east and from the north to the south. The biggest improvements, however, were seen in east-central Nebraska, where the storms dumped anywhere from 3 to 5 inches or more, leading to reduction of drought and a pocket that is now drought-free with short-term and lingering long-term dryness/drought concerns eased for now. The recent wet trend continued across southeastern South Dakota as well, bringing more improvements with the reduction of D0-D1 there and across the border into Minnesota as described above.

Farther south, Kansas also saw a mixed bag this week with heavy but narrow bands of storms putting a small dent in the drought there, particularly in central Kansas where the D3 was trimmed, leaving D2 behind. Elsewhere in Kansas, though, the drought strengthened its grip and was accompanied last week by well above normal temperatures, leading to an expansion of D4 into the extreme southwestern reaches of the state to the Oklahoma border.

Oklahoma also felt those hotter temperatures along with some below-freezing readings late in the period, leading to more damage to the winter wheat crop, which has felt the brunt of a cold winter and coinciding drought. However, heavy rains did fall across the southeast corner of the state, bringing some 1-category improvement there.

In Texas, scattered totals of 2 to 4 inches fell across northeastern and eastern counties this past week, leading to some relative improvement with a push west and south of D0-D3 in these areas. In fact, the area of D3 located just off the coast in southern Texas has been removed this week. Some slight trimming of the D4 was also seen this week in south-central Texas. Deep south Texas also shared in the improvements with the elimination of D2 and trimming of D0-D1. The southeast coastal region continued to miss out on the rains (although rains were falling in this region just after the cutoff time for the USDM production), leading to a push of D2 eastward into southwest Louisiana on this week’s map…

The West

Most states in the West saw below-normal temperatures last week, helping preserve the precious liquid cargo contained in the upper elevations and reservoir systems. A mixed bag of improvements and deterioration is noted on this week’s map. In Colorado, storms continue to avoid the southeastern corner of the state, leading to an expansion of D3 westward along with D0-D2 south of the Sangre de Cristo Mountain range. Notable improvement in the moisture situation in northwestern Colorado also leads to a reduction of D0, which also pushed improvement west into east-central Utah.

In Arizona, continued dryness leading up to the monsoon season means an expansion of D2 in the northwest, northeast and southern regions of the state.

A very favorable precipitation pattern for the calendar year-to-date (10 to 50% above the average) continued this past week, which has led to gradual improvement in the Pacific Northwest region as a whole. In Washington, the remaining dryness and drought has been reclassified to long-term (given the larger-scale wetness on the year-to-date) as denoted by the “L” and a resultant shift in the “L” impact line area found in Washington, Oregon and Idaho, as these areas are now connected. Most of the Willamette Valley improves to D0 from D1 this week and more of northeastern and north-central Oregon has also improved to D0. The southern half of Oregon remains unchanged.

All of California is now depicted as being in severe drought (D2) or worse this week, with the D3/D4 areas remaining unchanged. Attention this week turns to the heat wave settling in, which will only serve to exacerbate and accelerate drought impact concerns across the state. Increases on water demand and the increased risk of fire will ramp up as the heat does…

Looking Ahead

Over the next 5 days (May 14-19), the National Weather Service is calling for a strong system to bring widespread and locally heavy rains to much of the Southeast, Mid-Atlantic and Northeast. West of the Mississippi River looks to be pretty dry for the most part except for Arkansas, where an inch or so is expected across the eastern half of the state. As for temperatures, most of the West can expect temperatures to run 3 to 6 degrees (or more in the Great Basin) above normal. For just about everybody else east of the Rockies, temperatures are looking to stay cooler than normal at 3 to 10 degrees below normal.

This week’s 6-10 day (May 20-24) day outlook from the Climate Prediction Center is showing a tilt in the odds toward above-normal temperatures in all but the interior of Alaska, the West Coast, Pacific Northwest, central Plains and Midwest, with below-normal temperatures expected in the Four Corner region and into the central Rockies as well as along the western Gulf Coast. As for precipitation during this period, above-normal precipitation is more likely in southeastern Alaska, most of the West Coast from central California up to Canada, southern New Mexico, the lower Mississippi Valley, the Southeast and the southern Mid-Atlantic region. Above-normal precipitation is looking favorable across the northern Great Lakes and Plains regions along with the Great Basin, central Rockies and western reaches of the southern Plains.

Meanwhile the Climate Prediction Center is predicting a wet summer over Colorado.

June, July, and August precipitation outlook via the Climate Prediction Center
June, July, and August precipitation outlook via the Climate Prediction Center

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