#Drought news: Quiet monsoon signal across the Desert Southwest

Click on a thumbnail to view a gallery of drought data.

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

The Southern Plains and Southeast

Above-normal temperatures and a generally dry week means drought is regaining a toe hold on the landscape from eastern Texas all the way to Florida. Building off of the expanding dryness last week, a large expansion of D0 is noted across western and northern Louisiana, eastern Texas, extreme southeastern Oklahoma and southwest Arkansas. Many locales in these states have seen less than half their normal rainfall over the past two months and less than 10% of their normal rains over the past 30 days. The quick-hitting, flashy nature of this developing drought across both regions bears watching given the time of year and the fact that the shorter-term forecasts don’t appear overly promising, particularly in the Southern Plains and lower Mississippi basin. Things can go downhill in a hurry this time of year and El Niño’s chokehold on tropical storm activity to date is only enhancing the dry signal. Of course, that same pesky culprit, El Niño, may well be the one that comes to the rescue this fall and winter given the stronger likelihood of a cooler and wetter winter across the Gulf Coast region…stay tuned. As such, D0-D1 expansion is prevalent on this week’s map throughout eastern Texas, most of Louisiana, eastern Mississippi, Alabama, the Florida Panhandle and a good chunk of Georgia. However, not all places saw expansion in the Southeast this past week as D2 was eliminated in extreme southeastern Georgia and D0-D2 was trimmed in general up and down Florida’s east coast from Jacksonville to Miami. Locally heavy rains (2 to 4 inches) were the reason behind the improvement this past week…

The West

As can be expected this time of year, it was a pretty uneventful week on the precipitation front across most of the region, including a quiet monsoon signal across the Desert Southwest. The West remains unchanged this week but the impacts (near-record/record low streamflow, water supply, water temperatures, fire, etc.) are still being felt and are of major concern as we head toward a new water year with September now on the horizon…

Looking Ahead

For the period August 6 through August 11, monsoon precipitation will again be relatively scarce across the Desert Southwest and the rest of the West will be seasonally dry as well. Prospects for the southern Plains and lower Mississippi Basin don’t look good either. Better odds for the wet stuff can be seen in the upper Midwest, the Mid-Atlantic (heavy rains are forecasted for Virginia, Delaware and extreme western Carolinas along with northeastern North Carolina), the Southeast (central Alabama and the western half of Georgia) and along the coastal reaches of the Gulf Coast region (from southern Alabama across the Florida Panhandle and into northern Florida) if all goes as forecasted. Temperatures for this same period show cooler weather across the Great Basin with near-normal readings likely in the Pacific Northwest and rest of the West Coast. Cooler weather is also expected across the northern Plains, New England and Mid-Atlantic. The only real projected hot spot over the next 5 days can be found in the central Plains, the southern and central Rockies and front ranges, southern Plains and lower Mississippi Basin where temperatures are expected to run 3 to 9 degrees above normal.

The 6-10 day (valid for August 11-14, 2015) and 8-14 day (valid for August 13-19, 2015) outlooks appear pretty similar and the models are in good agreement about the building of a ridge across the west-central U.S. during this timeframe. This will likely bring a late summer heat wave across the Great Plains, upper Midwest, lower Mississippi Basin, the Rockies, the Desert Southwest and along the southern coastal tier areas of Alaska. Cooler weather is expected in the Pacific Northwest, western Great Basin and the Northeast. One significant feature worth noting is that the 8-14 day outlook projects a stronger likelihood of above-normal temperatures across the West and into the Southeast and Carolinas and across a larger portion of southern Alaska, which the 6-10 day outlook does not.

As for precipitation during these time frames, below-normal totals are more likely, and coincide with, the projected hot spot areas depicted across the entire mid-section of the country from the Gulf of Mexico to Canada (Texas to Michigan and most points in between across the Great Plains and Midwest). Better chances of precipitation can be found in eastern Alaska, the Pacific Northwest, east-central Great Basin, the Atlantic Seaboard region from Maine to north Florida and the coastal areas in the Gulf Coast region from Mississippi eastward to Florida. The southern tip of Florida looks to remain dry at least through the middle of the August as well.

Click on a thumbnail below to view a gallery of drought data from early August for the past few years.

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