Drought news: Good rains in the San Juan mountains help, SE Colorado needs a good winter

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


Another large weather system moved across the country’s midsection last week, bringing the heaviest rains to those areas outside of dryness/drought. The system brought anywhere from 3 to 5 inches of rain across eastern Nebraska and Kansas and then through Missouri, Iowa and into the Midwest and Great Lakes region, with cooler temperatures following in its wake. The rest of the country saw a much drier week and California, Oregon and Washington recorded well above normal temperatures…

The Plains and Midwest

A large, slow-moving storm system brought heavy rains (3 to 6 inches) and flooding to eastern Nebraska, eastern Kansas, southwestern Iowa, northern Missouri, central Illinois and extreme western Indiana. One-category improvements are noted in these areas, leaving behind small pockets of D0-D1 as the dryness/drought has been pushed farther south. Streamflow values across much of the Missouri and upper Mississippi basins are running very high for this time of year, emptying swollen streams and rivers into reservoirs along the way as recovery from the 2012-2013 drought continues.

One area that has missed out on the wetness of late is the tri-point region between extreme northeast South Dakota, southeast North Dakota and extreme west-central Minnesota, which sees the introduction of D0 this week. Although the past month was particularly dry, some locales in this region have been experiencing this pattern back to 60 and even 90 days. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing as the harvest season is underway for many…

The West

Hot temperatures (6-10 degrees above normal) and dry conditions were widespread across coastal California all the way up to Washington. Conditions remain unchanged this week on the map, however, as a critical new Water Year begins to spin up. With the 2014 Water Year in the books now, the National Weather Service in Sacramento issued some preliminary numbers that help put this drought into perspective. The Sacramento Water Supply Index (WSI) came in as the 4th driest water year in terms of runoff in the 109-year period dating back to 1906. In case you’re interested, 1977 was the worst year, followed by 1924 and 1931, respectively. Several of California’s largest reservoirs are running at their second-lowest levels, only running behind 1977. This is of particular importance given that the population has roughly doubled since the drought of 1977. No doubt about it, though, an above-normal Water Year is sorely needed to stave off even further depletion of surface and ground water supplies.

Elsewhere across the region, good rains came to the San Juan Mountains of Colorado, resulting in some minor trimming of the western notch of D0-D1 found there. Good rains over the past 90 days (or more) has also led to some trimming of the D3 in extreme southeast Colorado, northeast New Mexico, southwest Kansas and the extreme western Panhandle of Oklahoma. Conditions are still dire, though, as the region has weathered four years of intense, persistent drought. This is another region that could use a good beneficial winter…

Looking Ahead

For the period October 9-14, temperatures are expected to remain well above normal (3-6 degrees) across most of the West. Temperatures could prove to be even hotter across the Gulf Coast region and the Mid-Atlantic, with temperatures as high as 9 degrees above the norm. The Central Plains, Midwest and the Great Lakes regions are expecting to see much cooler than normal weather, with readings 3-6 degrees below normal. As for precipitation, one place expecting to see good precipitation is the coastal ranges of Washington. The major rainmaker, however, is expected to come from the remnants of Tropical Storm Simon trekking across the Desert Southwest (southern Arizona and New Mexico), central and southern Plains, Mississippi Valley, the Tennessee and Ohio Valleys and the Northeast. Totals are expected to range anywhere from 2 to 5 inches over widespread areas that are currently under the grip of drought.

Looking out a bit further at the 6-10-day time frame (October 14-18), the models are showing a greater likelihood of above-normal temperatures for virtually all of the contiguous United States, with the exception being the Pacific Northwest. The prospects for this unseasonable warmth are quite strong in the West, western Plains and Atlantic Coast. Southern Alaska is the only place that is expecting below-normal temperatures during this period. All areas except northern Alaska are also expected to be below normal on the precipitation side of things. For the Lower 48, the Pacific Northwest and eastern third of the country are showing better odds of above-normal precipitation. The Four Corners region and the central and southern Plains show a stronger tendency of being below normal with regard to the wet stuff.

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