#Drought news: #Colorado is starting to dry out

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


This U.S. Drought Monitor week saw hot and dry conditions persist across the western U.S as a ridge of high pressure anchored over the region exacerbated drought conditions in eastern Montana as well as elevating fire danger across the region. According to the National Interagency Fire Center, ~70 large wildfires are currently burning across the West. On Friday and Saturday, daily high-temperature records were broken at various locations including: Las Vegas (116°F), Los Angeles (98°F), Phoenix (118°F), Reno (104°F), Boise (104°F), and Salt Lake City (104°F). Some relief from the heat came as monsoonal circulation returned to the Southwest bringing scattered showers and thunderstorms to portions of the Southwest and eastern Great Basin, although accumulations were generally less than 1 inch for the week. In drought-stricken areas of eastern Montana and the Dakotas, excessive heat continued to deplete soil moisture and further stressed rain-fed crops, pastures, and rangelands. In South Dakota, 72% of the spring wheat crop is currently rated as poor to very poor while Montana is not far behind at 62%, according the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Overall, declining conditions have resulted in the U.S. spring wheat crop being rated at 39% in poor to very poor condition. Further south in Oklahoma, rainfall during the past several weeks has led to improvements in soil moisture in eastern and southern portions of the state. Elsewhere, short-term precipitation deficits and dry soils led to expansion of areas of moderate drought in Iowa while the eastern U.S. remained drought-free on this week’s map…

The Plains

Areas of Moderate Drought (D1), Severe Drought (D2), and Extreme Drought (D3) expanded across eastern Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota where hot and dry conditions continued as well as reports of declining crop conditions and hay shortages. In South Dakota, “soybeans statewide are showing thin stands, slow growth, and small size for this time of time year” according to the South Dakota State University (SDSU) Extension. In North Dakota, small grain crop failures are being reported as well as reports of producers selling off livestock. According to the USDA’s latest Crop Progress, the percentage of topsoil rated very short to short is as follows: Montana (89%), South Dakota (79%), Nebraska (65%), and North Dakota (62%). In eastern Montana, hot and dry weather persisted with limited precipitation. According to the July 10th Montana Crop Progress (USDA), “Haying is running at least two weeks ahead of schedule in some parts of the state, but little is on the market as livestock operations are hesitant to sell given that much of the state is experiencing drought.” In the southern Plains, some minor improvements were made in areas of Abnormally Dry (D0) and Moderate Drought (D1) in Oklahoma where precipitation has been above normal during the past 30 days in contrast to below normal precipitation in central and western portions of the state where areas of Moderate Drought (D1) expanded. During the past week, average temperatures in the northern Plains and eastern Montana were 4 to 10-plus degrees above normal with the greatest anomalies observed in eastern Montana where temperatures soared into the low 100s. Overall, the region saw some isolated storms which produced only minor accumulations – generally less than 1 inch…

The West

During the past week, the hot and dry pattern continued across most of the West with record-breaking high temperatures reported from Phoenix to Boise during the weekend. In the Southwest, the monsoon has been off to a slow start overall. Since the beginning of the month, storm activity has been spotty across portions of Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico yielding limited precipitation amounts and elevating fire risk with dry lightning and high wind gusts. In central Arizona, a new area of Moderate Drought (D1) was added to the map in Yavapai County where short-term dryness and surface water flows are well below normal on the Agua Fria and Verde rivers. In central Utah, an area of Moderate Drought (D1) was introduced in response to below normal precipitation during the past 90 days as well as low streamflows on the Sevier River and below normal reservoir storage levels at the Sevier Bridge Reservoir (36% of average). Areas of Abnormally Dry (D0) were expanded across southwestern Utah in response to short-term dryness, dry vegetation, and pockets of below normal soil moisture. In western Colorado, short-term precipitation deficits and dry soils led to expansion of areas of Abnormally Dry (D0). In California, despite having a very wet winter, the USDA is reporting the extent of topsoil moisture rated very short to short at 70% with subsoil moisture very short to short at 75%…

Looking Ahead

The NWS WPC 7-Day Quantitative Precipitation Forecast (QPF) calls for moderate precipitation accumulations (1 to 3 inches) across portions of the Southwest and Central Rockies as monsoonal moisture is expected to return while the remainder of the West will continue in a dry pattern. Much of the Eastern tier of the conterminous U.S. is expected to receive accumulations ranging 1 to 3 inches with the heaviest accumulations forecasted for south Florida, eastern portions of the Carolinas, and southern New England. In the Midwest, widespread accumulations of 1 to 2.5 inches are expected across eastern and northern portions of the region. The CPC 6–10 day outlooks call for a high probability of above-normal temperatures across the northern half of the conterminous U.S., Gulf Coast, and California. Below normal temperatures are expected in southeastern Arizona, northern Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. Below-normal precipitation is forecast for the Pacific Northwest, central Plains, Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, and Northeast while there is a high probability of above-normal precipitation across the Southeast, South, Southwest, Great Basin, and Intermountain West.

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