Drought news: Improvement forecast for Four Corners, California drought intensifying #ColoradoRiver

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


The week was relatively dry nationwide, with the High Plains separating generally warmer-than-normal conditions to the west from colder weather farther east. Precipitation totals exceeding an inch were common in a few regions; specifically, parts of New Jersey and Delaware, the Carolinas, the Florida Peninsula and adjacent southeastern Georgia, central and eastern Tennessee and adjacent Alabama, eastern Texas and parts of central and western Louisiana, southwestern California, portions of the Aleutians and coastal southern Alaska, and the Alaskan Panhandle. Heavy amounts exceeding 5 inches, however, were limited to a couple of isolated sites on Kodiak Island and in the southernmost Alaskan Panhandle…


Light to moderate precipitation fell on southern parts of the state away from the deserts, with amounts exceeding an inch common along the southwest coastline and the adjacent windward slopes. Little or none fell elsewhere.

Benefits from last month’s storms continue to be felt in west-central California, prompting improvements to D2 in Marin, adjacent Sonoma, San Francisco, and northernmost San Mateo Counties.

Farther east, improvement has not been as resilient in much of the Sacramento Valley, and following a month of subnormal precipitation, D4 has been brought back into part of the Sacramento Valley from Sacramento, Yolo, and western El Dorado Counties northward through Butte County. Reservoirs near and north of this region are still above their levels at the start of the current wet season, but water-year-to-date totals have dropped back to near average and 24-month precipitation totals are among the lowest 2 to 10 percent of historical occurrences.

Along and east of the central and southern Sierra Nevada, D4 was expanded eastward past the ridge line to include the eastern slopes of the range from Inyo County, California northward through Douglas County, Nevada. Subnormal winter precipitation has combined with abnormal warmth to leave Sierra Nevada snowpack well short of the historic mid-January average in central and southern parts of the range. Since October 1, 2014, precipitation totals are 3 inches to locally over a foot below normal from the slopes of eastern Fresno and adjacent Inyo Counties northward through eastern Nevada County…

Central and Southern Plains

Moderate to locally heavy precipitation prompted patchy improvement across southern and eastern Texas, but it was a cold and dry week elsewhere, keeping dryness and drought predominantly unchanged. Some deterioration was noted in a few spots in northern Texas, including some D4 expansion into Hardeman and Foard Counties just southeast of the Panhandle. Precipitation since October 2014 has totaled less than 75 percent of normal across much of the Panhandle and in adjacent areas to the east, and 6-month totals below half of normal were noted in a few small areas in southwestern Oklahoma and the central Texas Panhandle…

Northern Plains and upper Midwest

A very cold and dry week kept conditions locked as they were the previous week, with broad-scale abnormal dryness and a smaller area of moderate drought…

The Pacific Northwest

Little precipitation of significance fell last week, but some adjustments were made based on a re-assessment of information. So far, winter has not been markedly wet or dry in general across the Cascades, but it has been warmer than normal, and snowpack is low for this time of year. As a result, D0 conditions were expanded to cover the Oregon Cascades, and the ridge line and eastern slopes of the Cascades in central and southern Washington. In contrast, D1 was retracted from the southwest Oregon coastal region, and reports of lessening impacts led to improvements in the D0 to D2 conditions across central and eastern Washington and adjacent Idaho…

The Southern Rockies and Eastern Intermountain West

From central sections of Idaho and Nevada eastward across the Four Corners states and small portions of southern Wyoming and southwestern Montana, no changes were made to the analysis. South and west of the central Rockies, D0 to D2 conditions prevail, with spots of D3 in southern Idaho, southeastern Arizona, and along the northern Arizona/New Mexico border. Precipitation totals exceeding an inch were confined to isolated locales in the highest elevations…

Looking Ahead

The upcoming 5-day period (January 14 – 18, 2015) looks generally mild and dry across the contiguous 48 states. According to the Weather Prediction Center, heavy precipitation (2 to 7 inches) should be limited to northwest California and the Pacific Northwest along and west of the Cascades, with the largest amounts expected along parts of the immediate coastline and windward mountain slopes. Moderate to locally heavy precipitation (1.5 to 3.0 inches) is expected in parts of central and northern Idaho. Elsewhere, amounts of 0.5 to 1.5 inches are forecast across the remainders of northern California, the Pacific Northwest, and Idaho, plus adjacent portions of western Montana and northwestern Wyoming. Farther south and east, totals above 0.5 inch should be limited to New England, the Outer Banks, and the immediate central Gulf Coast. The rest of the East Coast, southern sections of the central Gulf Coast states, and the upper Great Lakes regions are expected to receive light precipitation, with little or none anticipated elsewhere. Temperatures should average at least somewhat above normal from the Mississippi Valley westward, with daily highs averaging 9oF to 18oF above normal from south-central sections of the Plains and Front Range northward to the Canadian border.

For the ensuing 5 days (January 19 – 23, 2015), warmer than normal weather is favored across almost all of the 49 continental states, except northwestern Alaska and parts of the central and northern High Plains and adjacent Rockies. Subnormal precipitation is anticipated throughout the West Coast states, western Arizona, and most of Nevada while surplus precipitation is expected from the eastern edge of the Rockies eastward through the Great Lakes region, the middle Ohio Valley, and the central Gulf Coast region. Wet weather is also favored throughout Alaska.

Meanwhile the Climate Prediction Center issued their seasonal outlook for drought, precipitation, and temperature yesterday:

Seasonal Drought Outlook January 15 thru April 30, 2015 via the Climate Prediction Center
Seasonal Drought Outlook January 15 thru April 30, 2015 via the Climate Prediction Center
Precipitation Outlook January 15 thru April 30, 2015 via the Climate Prediction Center
Precipitation Outlook January 15 thru April 30, 2015 via the Climate Prediction Center
Temperature Outlook January 15 thru April 30, 2015 via the Climate Prediction Center
Temperature Outlook January 15 thru April 30, 2015 via the Climate Prediction Center

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