Drought Monitor Weekly: Widespread Improvements for Great Plains

    Summary

    Heavy precipitation fell across much of the contiguous U.S. over the past week, particularly in the Great Plains, Northwest (especially the northern Rocky Mountains), and the Southeast. Much of this fell as rain, though some mountain snows occurred as well. Meanwhile, the Southwest remained dry, along with northern Montana and most of the Texas Panhandle.

    Improvements to drought conditions were widespread in the Great Plains, with parts of central Kansas seeing two-category improvements to conditions. Despite the widespread precipitation, drought remained in most of the western Great Plains and western U.S., though it lessened in severity in some areas.

    A mix of worsening and improving drought conditions occurred in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic states. Long-term drought improved in northern Maine along the Canadian border, while short-term drought expanded in coverage in southern New England.

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    Short-term abnormal dryness and moderate drought developed in south-central and southwest Alaska. Heavy rains in Puerto Rico led to localized improvements there.

    Southeast

    Widespread heavy rain fell over parts of the Southeast region this week. The Florida Panhandle and Alabama saw some of the highest totals, with much of Alabama receiving 2 or more inches of rain, and the western Florida Panhandle receiving 2 to 6 inches.

    Heavy rain amounts also fell in western North Carolina and surrounding areas, leading to widespread removal of abnormal dryness. After recent rainfall improved conditions, moderate short-term drought was removed from western Virginia. Moderate and severe drought continued in coastal parts of North Carolina, South Carolina, and parts of the Georgia coast, which did not receive as much rainfall.

    Changes to drought status were mixed in the Florida Peninsula, with areas that received heavier rain seeing improvements, while east-central Florida saw an increase in moderate drought coverage as short-term precipitation deficits and soil-moisture deficits mounted.

    South

    Widespread drought conditions continued in western portions of Oklahoma, Texas, southern Texas, and southern Louisiana this week, though some improvements were noted in Texas and Oklahoma. Recent heavy rainfall from far northern Oklahoma into parts of south-central Oklahoma and west-central and central Texas lessened precipitation deficits enough to allow for improved drought conditions.

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    The ongoing drought area over western Oklahoma and the eastern Texas Panhandle is now long-term, reflecting the impact of recent rain events. Tuesday night’s thunderstorms in the Southern Plains was not accounted for on this week’s map, as it fell after the Tuesday morning cutoff. This will be considered for next week’s map. Despite recent rainfall, problems continued with winter wheat and cotton growth in the southern Great Plains.

    Finally, a small area of short-term drought in southeast Tennessee was removed after heavy rain this week.

    Midwest

    The Midwest region remained mostly free of drought this week, aside from northwest Iowa, though some pockets of abnormal dryness saw changes. Severe thunderstorms in western Iowa and Minnesota dropped enough rain to lead to improvements to some areas of abnormal dryness along the western Iowa/Minnesota border.

    Heavy rain in northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin lessened long-term precipitation deficits, which allowed for the ongoing abnormal dryness area to be trimmed on its north and south edges. Short-term precipitation deficits mounted in southeast Illinois, where abnormal dryness increased slightly.

    Short-term abnormal dryness also developed in northwest Indiana, where short-term precipitation deficits mounted alongside groundwater concerns. Abnormally dry conditions generally stayed the same or improved in Kentucky after rainfall this week in parts of the state.

    High Plains

    Large-scale improvements to drought conditions and abnormal dryness took place in the High Plains region this week, where widespread rain and mountain snow fell as several storm systems moved through the region. Extreme drought was removed from central Kansas and northeast Nebraska, where soil moisture improved and short- and long-term precipitation deficits lessened.

    Widespread improvements were also made in South Dakota, where precipitation deficits improved. Rain and mountain snow was also widespread in Colorado recently, leading to improving conditions in both the Rocky Mountains and high plains. Heavy precipitation amounts fell in northern Wyoming and southern Montana, leading to a large swath of improved conditions.

    Lingering long-term abnormal dryness in western North Dakota also continued to wane, while moderate drought was removed entirely from the west end of the state after precipitation this week.

    Despite the improving drought conditions, agricultural problems continued in the region. Winter wheat harvest potential in Kansas was reduced by over 25%, while conditions are too wet in parts of Montana and the Dakotas for planting spring wheat.

    West

    Localized heavy precipitation fell across mainly the northern half of the West region this week, leading to a few areas of improvements. Drought areas in southwest and northeast Oregon, central Idaho, northern Nevada, and northern Utah saw some local improvements as drought indices responded to recent precipitation.

    As mentioned in the High Plains section, widespread improvements were made in southern Montana after heavy precipitation fell there, with localized amounts of 5 inches or more. Recent precipitation also allowed for some improvements in northeast Montana. Despite these improvements, widespread severe, extreme, and some exceptional drought continued across the West.

    Impacts from the widespread drought include reduced grazing for cattle in New Mexico due to wildfire closures in national forests and hydropower production concerns at reservoirs in Nevada and California due to very low water levels.

    Northeast

    After a wet week in northern Maine, long-term moderate drought lessened in coverage, as did the surrounding abnormal dryness area. Here, long-term precipitation deficits continued to lessen, leading to the improvements, as some areas near the Canadian border saw over 2 inches of rain.

    Farther south in New England, short-term moderate drought and abnormal dryness expanded in coverage in Massachusetts, southeast New Hampshire, eastern Connecticut, and Rhode Island. Here, short-term precipitation deficits continued to mount, alongside lowering streamflow and soil moisture values, leading to the worsening conditions. Moderate short-term drought was also removed from southern West Virginia after recent rainfall improved conditions there.

    Looking Ahead

    Through the evening of Monday, June 6, the National Weather Service Weather Prediction Center is forecasting moderate precipitation amounts in parts of the Northwest, with some mountainous areas forecasted to see over an inch of precipitation. Dry conditions are expected to continue in the Southwest.

    Widespread rain exceeding one-half inch is expected to have fallen across northern Texas, including parts of the Panhandle, and much of Oklahoma. Elsewhere in the Great Plains, some precipitation is forecast to fall from southwest North Dakota southward, with amounts generally varying between 0.25 and 0.75 inches.

    Heavier amounts are possible along the Minnesota/Iowa border. In the eastern U.S., generally drier conditions are expected, though some parts of the Ohio Valley and Northeast and the Appalachians are expected to receive at least a half-inch of rain.

    Finally, a tropical disturbance is forecast to move across southern Florida, which may deliver rain amounts from 3 to 10 inches, especially across the southern half of the Florida Peninsula. For the latest on this system, please refer to forecasts from your local National Weather Service office and any advisories from the National Hurricane Center.




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