Drought Monitor Weekly: Heavy Rains in Southeast; Hot, Dry Up North

Drought stressed corn. Photo: Texas AgriLife Extension

Summary

Warmer than normal temperatures continued their hold this week on the northern tier of the Lower 48, particularly in the northern Great Plains and Upper Midwest.

Across the north, widespread degradation of drought conditions occurred in areas where heavy rainfall missed. A few areas that received heavy precipitation and saw localized improvements were coastal Oregon and Washington, western Montana, and eastern Montana and western North Dakota.

Widespread heavy rain occurred in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic, where drought conditions improved or ceased in many locations.

Scattered storms over the last few weeks in the southern Great Plains and eastern New Mexico led to isolated improvements to drought conditions, and a few degradations to drought conditions in western Oklahoma where heavier storms missed.

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Conditions improved after beneficial rainfall in eastern Puerto Rico. Continued drying in Hawaii led to degradation in drought conditions on many of the islands.

Southeast

The rainfall this week allowed drought conditions to improve, sporadically, from South Florida to North Carolina. Moderate drought lessened in coverage along the southwest Florida Gulf Coast after heavy rain fell this week and improved conditions there.

Severe drought ceased in North Carolina and decreased in coverage in South Carolina after recent heavy rain. Moderate drought coverage was also reduced across a wide swath of eastern South Carolina and eastern North Carolina.

South

Scattered heavy rain fell across the eastern half of the region this week, while rains were much spottier (though locally heavy) in Texas and Oklahoma. Moderate and severe drought conditions shifted northwest in western Oklahoma in response to changing conditions after rain this week, leaving some areas improved and others degraded.

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Several areas in southwest Texas saw improvement this week after rain from the last couple of weeks improved conditions there. In southwest Texas, the Trans-Pecos, and along the Rio Grande to near Laredo, abnormal dryness and all drought categories continued.

Midwest

Generally warm and dry conditions prevailed in the northern half of the region over the past week, leading to widespread worsening of drought and dryness. Continued warm and dry weather worsened precipitation deficits in the western and northern parts of Chicagoland, as well as in adjacent southeast Wisconsin, and extreme drought developed in those areas.

In this general region, many crops are struggling due to the ongoing severe and extreme drought. Moderate drought also developed across central Wisconsin as short-term precipitation deficits mounted. Moderate drought coverage also grew in western regions of Minnesota. Drought coverage also expanded across a large portion of southern Iowa.

Recent dry weather and lowering streamflow led to the development of moderate drought in St Louis County, Missouri. In northern portions of Wisconsin and the Michigan Upper Peninsula, rain this week kept encroachment of drought or abnormal dryness at bay. Conditions were also better in the Ohio River Valley, where some small areas of abnormal dryness lessened their aerial grip after rain this past week.

High Plains

Precipitation across the High Plains region varied significantly this week, though very warm temperatures were consistent across the region. Notably, many places in the central and northern Great Plains have had warmer daytime high temperatures than much of the southern Great Plains, leading to potentially large losses of surface moisture to the atmosphere through evaporation and transpiration in the northern Great Plains.

A few areas in the western half of North Dakota received enough rain from several thunderstorm events to improve their drought status, though this primarily occurred in areas with very heavy rain amounts (some locales received over 5 inches). For the most part, while welcome, the heavy rains have come after months of warm and dry conditions, and the widespread severe, extreme, and exceptional drought has been slow to improve as impacts to plants and livestock continue.

In north-central and northeast South Dakota, and adjacent portions of North Dakota, moderate and severe drought expanded.

West

Three notable widespread precipitation events occurred in the northwestern United States this week, which led to limited improvements in northeast Montana, western Montana, and coastal regions of Washington and Oregon.

Recent scattered rainfall from thunderstorms in the high plains and high desert of eastern and south-central New Mexico improved drought conditions locally, though widespread moderate-to-exceptional drought maintained its grip on most of the state.

Northeast Montana received locally enough rain from severe thunderstorms for limited improvement from extreme to severe drought. However, similar to North Dakota and South Dakota, agricultural impacts and warm temperatures continued, limiting the rain’s benefit on conditions in the area.

A swath of precipitation covered areas from southwest Idaho to the high country of western Montana, leading to a small area of improved conditions in western Montana. Finally, a late-season atmospheric river event delivered welcome precipitation to coastal portions of Washington and Oregon, which improved short- and long-term precipitation deficits enough for localized one- and two-category improvements in drought conditions.

Unfortunately, most of the rest of the West received little to no precipitation, and warmer than normal temperatures plagued much of the region. Degradations to conditions occurred in northeast California and south-central Oregon, southern Montana, central and western Wyoming, far east-central Wyoming, and the high country of west-central Colorado. All of these locations saw short- and long-term precipitation deficits continue to mount.

Most of the West region remained in moderate, severe, extreme, or exceptional drought. In central California, farmers have been warned about potential water cutoffs, while wildfire concerns and firework restrictions are prevalent in Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico.

Northeast

Rain fell across much of the southwestern half of the region, leading to improving conditions in some areas, while conditions remained the same or worsened in northern New England and alongside the eastern Great Lakes. Moderate drought developed in northern New York, where short-term precipitation deficits mounted, soil moisture decreased, and streamflow lessened.

A similar story played out in parts of Maine, where widespread degradation to moderate drought and abnormal dryness occurred. A small area of moderate drought also developed on Cape Cod, where short-term precipitation deficits grew and streamflow dropped.

Heavy rain fell in West Virginia and Virginia, where conditions improved enough for the removal of moderate drought in most parts of Virginia (excluding far south-central reaches of the Commonwealth).

Looking Ahead

As of June 16, the National Weather Service (NWS) Weather Prediction Center is forecasting two areas of significant precipitation through the evening of June 21. One area of forecast rain covers much of the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley regions, and could be highly beneficial to southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois if it occurs.

Large rain amounts are also forecast from the central Gulf Coast to Georgia, northwest Florida, and western South Carolina, in association with a tropical disturbance being monitored by the NWS National Hurricane Center as of the afternoon of June 16th.

For more information on this system, please monitor forecasts from the National Hurricane Center, the Weather Prediction Center, and your local National Weather Service forecast.

The NWS Climate Prediction Center forecast for June 22-26 favors above normal precipitation in the western Great Lakes, lower Missouri River Valley, and the Southeast (excluding South Florida), while below normal precipitation is favored in the Pacific Northwest, Intermountain West, and North Dakota.

During this period, warmer than normal temperatures are favored in the western Great Plains and West, while below normal temperatures are more likely from the Great Lakes to the central and eastern Gulf Coast).

In Alaska, above normal temperatures are favored in the north from June 22-26, below-normal precipitation is favored in east-central Alaska, while above normal precipitation is favored elsewhere in the state.




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