Drought Monitor Weekly: Dry Areas Get a Mixed Bag for Rains

Summary

It was a mixed picture for the dry areas across the country. Widespread rainfall totals exceeding 2 inches fell from northeast Montana to north-central North Dakota, with a swath of 4 to 6 inches soaking part of northwest North Dakota. Farther east, generally under an inch fell on northeastern North Dakota and northern Minnesota near the Canadian border, with amounts increasing to the south.

Between 0.5 and 2.0 inches of rain fell on the climatologically-wetter areas of the Pacific Northwest on the west side of the Cascades and along the immediate coast, and 0.5 to 1.0 inch fell on northwestern Montana and part of adjacent Idaho. Other parts of the Northwest recorded less than 0.5 inch, with only a few tenths of an inch falling on most of interior Washington and Oregon.

Very little, if any, precipitation fell farther to the south, from central Oregon and Idaho southward through the Far West, and roughly the western half of the Four Corners region. Rainfall was highly variable through south Texas and the Southeast (not uncommon during summer).

Several small areas from south Georgia, north Florida, and Alabama westward received over 2 inches of rain, with isolated amounts reaching nearly 6 inches in south Texas. Rainfall was considerably sparser from central and north Georgia through the Carolinas, where most sites recorded only a few tenths of an inch.

Outside the contiguous states, light to moderate rains fell on north-central and central Puerto Rico while little or none was observed along the southern tier of the Commonwealth. Historically heavy out-of-season rains soaked parts of the leeward areas across Hawaii, with over 4 inches soaking Honolulu within 24 hours – more than any prior full month of June on record brought.

Southeast

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The rainfall pattern was highly variable across the region. Amounts of 0.5 to 2.0 inches (and locally greater) were common across south Georgia, north Florida, and the west half of Alabama, but only scattered to isolated areas across southeast Louisiana, north and central Georgia, and most of the Carolinas received as much.

The broken rainfall pattern resulted in numerous small tweaks across the region, but larger changes included the removal of D0 through significant swaths of southern South Carolina and central Georgia (based on a re-assessment of effects from last week’s heavy rain), and some westward and southward expansion of the moderate drought near the coast of the central Carolinas.

South

Light to isolated moderate rainfall kept D0 essentially unchanged in western Tennessee. Farther south, an area of 2 or more inches of rain eliminated the D0 near south-central Louisiana, but lighter rains to the east kept abnormal dryness in other parts of southeast Louisiana. Across central Texas, rainfall was sparse, and several small areas of D0 there.

In south Texas, where more marked dryness existed, a small swath of heavy rain (up to 6 inches) eliminated severe drought across interior areas, and ended the moderate drought farther north toward Laredo. In contrast, lesser rains allowed severe drought to develop in a small area of far southwest Texas, and kept dry conditions generally unchanged in the rest of south Texas.

Midwest

Another week of heavy rainfall affected areas from Wisconsin and north Iowa northward through most of Minnesota, but precipitation was again sparse along the northern tier of that state, allowing moisture deficits to increase and prompting the extension of D0 eastward along the Canadian border. A broken pattern of moderate to heavy rain fell on a swath across Illinois and adjacent areas to the east and west while much of Iowa, Missouri, central and east Indiana, and most of Ohio and Kentucky were drier.

No abnormal dryness was identified anywhere outside the north tier of Minnesota.

High Plains

Another wet week was observed across northwest North Dakota, with amounts of 4 to locally over 6 inches soaking a swath just south of the Canadian border. This resulted in the removal of D0 from much of the area. Conditions were considerably drier farther to the east, keeping D0 to D2 intact over central and eastern parts of North Dakota, and allowing for some southward and eastward D0 expansion in northeastern North Dakota toward Minnesota.

Copious rainfall was measured in central parts of the region, but only a few patches across Colorado and Kansas received over 0.5 inch. No dryness or drought was noted south of central North Dakota.

West

Another week of moderate to heavy rain in northeast Montana eliminated any residual abnormal dryness there. Conditions also improved in southwestern Montana, but dryness and drought persisted or intensified from the Northwest coast through west-central Montana. Recent dryness prompted D0 expansion through west-central Montana and adjacent Idaho, east-central Washington, and part of southwest Oregon while moderate drought was extended slightly farther south in coastal western Oregon.

Moderate to severe drought, with subnormal weekly precipitation, persisted from north Idaho westward through northern and western Washington and northwestern Oregon. The drought is becoming fairly entrenched in parts of the Pacific Northwest, but no increase in D1 or D2 coverage seemed appropriate at this time.

Northeast

Some short-term precipitation shortfalls have popped up across interior southern New England and a few other isolated areas, but D0 introduction was not warranted at this time, and the region remains free of any dryness on the Drought Monitor.

Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico

The southern Alaska Panhandle had its driest June 2018 through May 2019 period on record, which supports the ongoing extreme drought (D3). Long-term precipitation deficits also persist across the rest of the southern Panhandle, leaving D0 to D2 conditions essentially unchanged. The abnormal dryness continued farther north through east-central Alaska, and while some slow drying was noted farther west, no D0 expansion was introduced yet.

Still, Anchorage, AK just endured their warmest and driest June on record, and the dryness has begun influencing both streamflows and wildfires in central Alaska, so this region will be closely monitored.

Meanwhile, a slow expansion of dryness and drought continued across Puerto Rico. Some extreme drought was introduced along the South Slopes where brush fires, declining well water levels, and some agricultural losses have been observed.

Across the Hawaiian Islands, historically heavy out-of-season rainfall occurred on parts of the dry areas in leeward areas, especially across Niihau, Kauai, Oahu, and Molokai, where all D0 to D2 areas were improved one category.

Looking Ahead

During the next 5 days (July 3 – 7, 2019), much of Florida, southeastern Georgia, and the eastern Carolinas are expecting between 1 and 2 inches of rain, and over an inch is also anticipated in central and eastern sections of northern Minnesota. But other areas of dryness and drought across the contiguous 48 states should receive less, likely providing little if any benefit.

Areas of North Dakota and western Minnesota along the Canadian border anticipate a few tenths of an inch, as do most areas from Texas eastward through central and north Georgia. Little precipitation, if any, is forecast for the dry areas from west Montana and the Pacific Northwest southward through the Far West, Great Basin, and Four Corners region.

Unusually mild weather from the north Intermountain West through the northern Plains should at least slow any tendency toward increasing dryness there, but hotter-than-normal conditions in the Southeast may temper benefits that might result from moderate rainfall.

The CPC 6-10 day outlook (July 8-12, 2019) favors wetter-than-normal weather in the Southeast, the northern Plains, north and west Texas, the northern Intermountain West, and the Alaska Panhandle. Meanwhile, enhanced chances for abnormally dry weather exist in south Texas and in parts of western Washington and Oregon.

The mild temperatures expected during the first week of July should continue in east Montana and the western Dakotas, but abnormally warm weather is favored in the West Coast states, the Intermountain West, the southern Plains, and the southeastern quarter of the country.


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