#COdrought news

Click on a thumbnail graphic to view a gallery of drought data from the US Drought Monitor. Click here to go to the US Drought Monitor website. Here’s an excerpt:

Central and south-central Plains

In the dry swath from South Dakota and Minnesota southward through Oklahoma, fairly widespread moderate to heavy rain fell on southeastern, central, and northern sections, Amounts generally topped 2 inches, with patches of 4 to 7 inch totals reported in southeast South Dakota and adjacent Minnesota, from east-central through northeastern Oklahoma and adjacent Kansas, and on the eastern tier of the Nebraska Peninsula. Spotty amounts over 2 inches were also reported in the Oklahoma Panhandle and southwestern Kansas, but otherwise, light precipitation at best fell from western Kansas and southeastern Colorado southeastward through roughly the southwestern half of Oklahoma, including most areas along the Red River.

The broken pattern of precipitation made it difficult to justify large-scale improvements, but dryness in several areas eased up one category, specifically most of the areas that received over 4 inches of rain, and parts of the region from southeastern Nebraska southward into northwestern Kansas.

In contrast, light precipitation of late in central and most of southern Oklahoma, including less than half of normal for the last 30 days in central and south-central Oklahoma, has pushed 90-day moisture deficits into the 4 to 8 inch range, prompting a significant eastward expansion of D1 to D3 conditions, most notably right along the Red River.

Winter wheat continued to suffer in the region, and prospects for improvement look bleak. NASS reported 62% of the crop in Kansas and 78% in Oklahoma was in poor or very poor condition. Nationally, 44% of the crop in the primary growing areas are in poor or very poor condition. Both the topsoil and subsoil are substantially short of moisture in many areas across the central Plains. Deficient topsoil moisture covers 55% of Nebraska, 60% of Kansas, and 68% of Oklahoma. Insufficient subsoil moisture is even more widespread, covering 75%, 75%, and 84% of these states, respectively.

In parts of the central and south-central Plains, the impact designation was changed to “L” (primarily long-term) from “SL” (both long- and short-term). As a basic rule, areas with surpluses going as far back as 90 days were designated “L.”

Texas and adjacent southern Plains

It was a wet week across eastern Texas and the northeastern half of the Texas Gulf Coast and adjacent Louisiana. Rainfall totals exceeded 2 inches throughout this region, and were much greater in some areas. Totals of 4 to locally over 8 inches were measured in a large part of southwestern Louisiana away from the immediate coast, and amounts of 3 to 7 inches, with isolated higher amounts, were common along the immediate Texas Gulf Coast. The Drought Monitor classification was improved in most areas receiving over 3 inches of rain, with small areas of 2-category improvement introduced where the heaviest rains fell in southwestern Louisiana.

In stark contrast, most of the central and western two-thirds of Texas was dry, with only scattered reports of a few tenths of an inch of rain at best. However, significant rainfall deficits on the 90-day time scale are limited to parts of western and northern Texas due to the heavy rain that fell on a large part of the interior last week. Fairly broad swaths of Texas were reclassified as “L” rather than “SL” as a result.

There were some new assessment tools available for Texas this week, and based on a substantial amount of added information, almost the entire state was redrawn, though Drought Monitor change was limited to 1 category in most of the state. Exceptions included some of the wet areas in the east, and a re-evaluated area in west-central Texas which has received significantly more relief than has been previously indicated.

Despite recent rains in some areas, crops continue to struggle and soil moisture shortages cover a large proportion of the state, subsoil moisture more so than topsoil. Last week, 64% of Texas winter wheat was in poor or very poor conditions, as were 33% of Texas oats. Deficient topsoil covers more than half the state (53%), and short subsoil moisture is even more widespread (62%).

The New Mexico Rockies, Intermountain West, and West Coast

In the dry areas from the eastern Rockies westward to the Pacific Ocean, measurable rain was limited to parts of the southeastern Rockies, western Oregon, and western and northern Washington. However, normal precipitation is relatively low in most of this region, thus deficits grow slowly, and drought intensifies in like fashion. The dry week kept short-term precipitation amounts low through most of the region (though not markedly below normal in many areas), with 30-day totals under 0.25 inch reported in much of central and east Washington and Oregon, and from southern Idaho and the Oregon/California border southeastward through the desert Southwest, the lower elevations of Utah, Arizona, and the western half of New Mexico.

Light precipitation and low normals mean little change moisture shortages and , analogously, in the Drought Monitor. D0 was pulled away from part of central Colorado where 1.5 to 3.5 inches of rain fell in the last 30 days, and there was D1 elimination and some D0 reduction in northwestern most Oregon and adjacent Washington.

Looking Ahead

Moderate to very heavy rain is expected across large parts of the dry areas in the central and south-central Plains, the Tennessee Valley, and the southern Appalachians during June 5 – 9, 2014. Generally 1.5 to 3.5 inches are forecast across the entire dry area from north Mississippi and west Tennessee eastward through the southern Appalachians. Farther west, precipitation may be heavier and even more widespread. Amounts near or over 2 inches are anticipated from western Nebraska, Kansas, southern Iowa, Missouri, and western Illinois southward through the northern half of Arkansas, almost all of Oklahoma, and the north-central and eastern Panhandle portions of Texas. The heaviest amounts, ranging from 3.0 to 5.5 inches, are expected in the southwestern half of Missouri, central and eastern Kansas, central and northeastern Oklahoma, and adjacent Arkansas. Elsewhere, the forecast is for 0.5 to 1.5 inch of rain in south Florida and south-central Virginia, plus most of the High Plains, northern Great Plains, upper Midwest, southern Arkansas, central and northeast Texas, and the west half of the Texas Panhandle. South of this area, anywhere from a few hundredths of an inch to near 0.5 inch is forecast in west-central, southern, and eastern Texas as well as Louisiana and southern Mississippi, with amounts expected to decrease going southward to the Gulf of Mexico and Mexico. In sharp contrast, areas from the eastern Rockies westward to the Pacific Ocean are likely to get no measurable rainfall.

The ensuing 5 days (June 10 – 14, 2014) features enhanced chances for above-normal rainfall across the dry area in the southern Appalachians, Tennessee Valley, and upper Southeast once again. The odds also favor surplus rainfall in the lower Mississippi Valley, east Texas, and from eastern Nebraska and most of Iowa northward through the dry areas in the northern Plains. On the other hand, most of the High Plains, the southwestern Great Plains, the eastern tier of the Rockies, central and northern Utah, the northern half of the Intermountain West, central and northern California, and all but the northernmost tier of the Pacific Northwest seem more likely to end up drier than normal for the period. Across the D0 area in Alaska, the odds don’t favor unusually wet or dry weather along the south-central coast, but odds lean toward above-normal precipitation in the rest of that region.

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