Drought Monitor Weekly: Tropical Storm Brings Needed Rains

Summary

This week, Claudette, the third named tropical cyclone of the 2021 Atlantic Hurricane Season, made landfall in the central Gulf Coast and moved across the southeast United States. Results from Claudette’s rainfall included widespread improvement to drought conditions in North Carolina and South Carolina, as well as improved conditions in northern Florida and southern Georgia.

Severe thunderstorms, including an EF3 tornado that hit western suburbs of Chicago, affected parts of northern Illinois, northern Indiana, northern Ohio, and southern Michigan on Sunday. While they caused widespread damage from wind and hail, the storms also delivered beneficial rainfall to areas suffering from moderate, severe, and extreme drought.

Meanwhile, relatively dry weeks in both the Northeast and the West caused drought conditions to worsen, for the most part, in both regions.

Southeast

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Claudette deposited widespread rainfall this week across much of the Southeast, particularly in Alabama and the Florida Panhandle.

Temperatures across the region were generally near normal for the week. Due to the rain this week and other recent rains, short-term precipitation deficits had become small enough for severe drought to be eradicated in South Carolina, and for moderate drought coverage to shrink in central and eastern North Carolina and South Carolina.

In south-central Virginia, which was much drier this week, moderate drought expanded slightly.

South

Across the South, in areas not affected by Claudette, rain was relatively scarce. Temperatures were generally near normal in the eastern part of the region, while the Texas Panhandle and northwest Oklahoma were warmer than normal.

Moderate drought developed near Woodward, Oklahoma, and slightly expanded in the northwest Texas Panhandle. Moderate and severe drought continued in southwest Oklahoma, and conditions ranging from abnormal dryness to exceptional drought (D4) continued along the Texas/Mexico border.

Midwest

Scattered thunderstorms, some of them severe, occurred over parts of the weekend, causing hail, wind, and a few tornadoes (including the significant one in the Chicagoland area), while also delivering beneficial rainfall. Areas that saw less rainfall from these storms, however, continued to dry out.

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This resulted in both widespread degradation and improvements to the drought and abnormal dryness situation this week. Notably, extreme (D3) and severe drought coverage decreased in northern Illinois and southern Lower Michigan, due to improved conditions after the storms.

Moderate drought shifted in coverage in the St. Louis area after thunderstorms delivered beneficial rainfall to the western part of the area, while St. Louis City and adjacent northern St. Louis County were drier.

Severe drought expanded across parts of northern Iowa, southern Minnesota, and northwest Minnesota, due to worsening precipitation deficits and vegetation conditions.

High Plains

Rainfall was paltry in areas of ongoing drought and abnormal dryness in the High Plains region. The dry weather combined with warmer than normal temperatures in much of Nebraska, Kansas, and western South Dakota to lead to widespread worsening of drought and abnormal dryness in these areas.

Extreme drought developed along the Missouri River in northern Nebraska and southern South Dakota, and severe and moderate drought expanded around this. Widespread extreme and exceptional drought still covered North Dakota, where adverse effects to crops and pastures from drought is widespread.

In eastern Wyoming, short-term dryness and hot weather led to expansions of moderate, severe, and extreme drought as well.

West

The drought situation in the western United States continued to worsen after another mostly hot and dry week. A few areas of drought in south-central and southeast New Mexico saw some slight improvement due to effects from several rain and thunderstorm events in the last month.

Unfortunately, widespread severe or worse drought continued in New Mexico, and conditions remained the same or worsened elsewhere. Increases in moderate, severe, extreme (and in a few cases, exceptional) drought coverage occurred in Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, and Montana. Severe drought also expanded in western Idaho.

Wildfires and increasing wildfire danger, water restrictions, and damage to agriculture are very common across the West region.

Northeast

Some rainfall occurred this week in northern Maine, Vermont, across New York, and in parts of Pennsylvania and West Virginia, but otherwise it was a dry week in the region. East of the Hudson River, temperatures were generally a bit warmer than normal, while mostly cooler than normal conditions prevailed west of the Hudson.

Severe drought (D2) developed in central Maine, where soil moisture and streamflow decreased and short-term precipitation deficits grew. Surrounding the severe drought in Maine, moderate drought (D1) also increased its aerial grip on the state. In New Hampshire, where moderate drought covers the northern half of the state, some utilities are enacting mandatory usage restrictions on outdoor watering.

Looking Ahead

As of the afternoon of Wednesday, June 23, the National Weather Service Weather Prediction Center is forecasting widespread rain, some possibly heavy, to occur over the next five days from southeast New Mexico to the western Great Lakes. The largest totals, ranging from 2 inches to as much as 5 inches of rain, are forecast to fall from central Missouri to northern Illinois and southern Michigan.

The northern edge of the area where the heaviest rains are predicted to fall is suffering from drought, and the precipitation could be beneficial if that occurs.

For the next six to 10 days, the National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center’s forecast favors warmer than normal temperatures extending from the Pacific Coast to the northern Great Plains, as well as in the Northeast, while an area of cooler than normal temperatures is favored in between, stretching from near the Arizona/New Mexico border to Iowa to central Florida.

In Alaska, above normal precipitation and near or below normal temperatures are favored in the west, while drier than normal weather and warmer than normal temperatures are favored in the eastern part of Alaska. The eight to 14 day outlook for the Lower 48 and for Alaska paints a similar picture, though the eight to 14 day outlook features a higher probability for above normal precipitation in the central Great Plains.




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