#Drought news: #Colorado needs rain on the plains

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


This U.S. Drought Monitor week saw a very active pattern in parts of the western U.S. as a series of Pacific storms brought significant rain to coastal areas of central and northern California, Oregon, and Washington while heavy snows blanketed higher elevations of the Sierra, Cascades, and northern Rockies. Continued snowfall this week across the Sierra is making a positive impact on the overall drought situation where the snowpack statewide is 176% of normal according to the California Cooperative Snow Surveys. Most of the major reservoirs in California are currently above historical averages. Some lingering hydrologic impacts (low reservoir levels and below-normal groundwater levels) are still present in portions of the central Coast, southern California, San Joaquin Valley, and the western foothills of the Sierra despite abundant precipitation during the past several months. Elsewhere in the West, mountain snowpack levels are normal to above normal across the Great Basin, southern Cascades, Wasatch, as well as central and southern Rockies. In the southern Plains and portions of the South, overall dry conditions have persisted, especially across Arkansas and Oklahoma. During the past week, temperatures were above normal across most of the conterminous U.S. with the exception of the northern Plains and much of the Pacific Northwest where temperatures were 5 to 20 degrees below normal with the greatest departures observed across Montana…

The Plains

On this week’s map, only minor changes were made across the region in the Panhandle of Nebraska in an area of Abnormally Dry (D0) where precipitation during the past 30 to 90 days and increased soil moisture led to improvements. Overall, the region was dry during the past week. Average temperatures were well below normal (5 to 15 degrees) in northern portions while southern portions were above normal…

The West

During the past week, a series of storms bringing widespread rain and snow showers impacted the states along the Pacific Coast and northern Rockies. In California, the cumulative effect of several months of abundant precipitation has significantly improved drought conditions across the state. Nearly all of California’s major reservoirs are currently above historical average levels with the state’s two largest reservoirs, Oroville and Shasta, currently at 126% and 124%, respectively. To date, the statewide percent of normal snow water equivalent sits at an impressive 176%, according to the California Cooperative Snow Surveys. Heavy snowfall this week in the Sierra led to improvements on the map in areas of Abnormally Dry (D0), Moderate Drought (D1), and Severe Drought (D2). Along the central Coast, continued heavy rains in the Santa Lucia Range led to improvements in areas of Abnormally Dry (D0), Moderate Drought (D1), and Severe Drought (D2) where streamflows and soil moisture levels are above normal. Along the southern California coast, one-category improvements were made in areas of Severe Drought (D2) where a wide variety of drought indicators (Palmer Drought Severity Index, Standardized Precipitation Index, streamflow activity, soil moisture levels, drought impact reports) at various timescales (30 days to 2 years) led to improvements in an area extending from southern Ventura County to San Diego County. In Santa Barbara and northern Ventura counties, an area of Extreme Drought (D3) has remained in place as local reservoirs and groundwater levels have been lagging behind other indicators as a result of the cumulative effect of significant long-term precipitation deficits. The Municipal Water District of Orange County (as of February 6, 2017) declared an end to the drought emergency. Elsewhere in the region, improvements were made in areas of Abnormally Dry (D0) and Moderate Drought (D1) in western Nevada. In Utah, areas of Abnormally Dry (D0) were reduced in western and northern portions in response to improvements in soil moisture and above-normal precipitation amounts during the past four-month period. The remaining area of Abnormally Dry (D0) in Utah covers areas in which below-normal reservoir levels persist…

Looking Ahead

The NWS WPC 7-Day Quantitative Precipitation Forecast (QPF) calls for moderate-to-heavy precipitation accumulations in northern California as well as western Oregon, western Washington, northern Idaho, and northwestern Wyoming. Moving eastward, lesser precipitation accumulations (less than 1.5 inches) are forecast for Texas, northern portions of the Mid-Atlantic, and eastern portions of the Midwest. Some heavier precipitation amounts (2 to 3 inches) are forecast for New England for the seven-day period. The CPC 6–10 day outlooks call for a high probability of above-normal temperatures across the entire conterminous U.S., with the exception of New England where below-normal temperatures are forecast to prevail. Below-normal precipitation is forecast for the Intermountain West, central and northern Plains, and the Midwest while above-normal precipitation is expected along the West Coast, South, and New England.

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