Drought Monitor Weekly: Continued Widespread Expansion Over Eastern U.S.

    Drought damaged, heat stressed corn. Photo: Clemson University


    Widespread moderate drought and abnormal dryness continued to form and expand across a large swath of the eastern U.S. this week, with a few areas of severe drought forming or expanding as well. Spotty rain and storms occurred across the East, but in areas that missed out on heavy rainfall, high temperatures, browning lawns, and curling corn signaled that rapid drying was taking place in many areas.

    An early start to the North American Monsoon, particularly in New Mexico and southern Colorado, led to widespread improvement of extreme and exceptional drought in those states.

    Extreme drought formed or expanded in parts of the central Great Plains this week, where warm, dry weather continued. Moderate short-term drought also began to expand in parts of New England this week.

    Short-term moderate and severe drought expanded in coverage in Alaska and Puerto Rico, and drought conditions continued to expand in parts of Hawaii.

    Finally, despite some improvements to conditions in parts of the West, severe, extreme, and some exceptional drought remains widespread there.


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    Moderate and severe drought, along with abnormal dryness, expanded in coverage this week across much of the Southeast region. Dry weather was largely the rule across the region, with the exception of parts of Virginia and the Florida Panhandle, though there were scattered thunderstorms that delivered spotty heavy rain amounts elsewhere. The result was widespread worsening conditions in the region, amid a background of hot temperatures and high evaporative demand, for locations that did not receive heavy rainfall.

    Moderate drought covers a large expanse of Georgia, along with much of South Carolina and eastern North Carolina. A few areas of severe drought have also formed or expanded in the Carolinas and Georgia this week as primarily short-term precipitation deficits mounted. Agricultural stress was reported in the Carolinas this week, including reports of browning corn leaves.


    Mainly dry conditions prevailed in the South this week, particularly from central Oklahoma and northeast Texas through Arkansas. Elsewhere, conditions were mostly dry, though some areas of heavier precipitation fell locally. Precipitation deficits improved enough in parts of western Oklahoma and the Texas Panhandle for some limited improvements to long-term drought conditions.

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    Elsewhere, conditions mostly stayed the same or degraded, and abnormal dryness and moderate short-term drought quickly became entrenched in parts of east Texas, northern Louisiana, northern Arkansas, northern Mississippi, and Tennessee. Severe and extreme short- and long-term drought continued to plague southern Louisiana and a large portion of Texas this week.

    In drought areas in Texas, soil moisture deficits and low streamflow remained a major impact this week. There, extreme heat made drought-related problems worse. White-tailed deer are expected to have lower antler quality this fall in Texas due to the conditions. Additionally, crop stress continued and stock tanks lowered.


    Some heavier rains fell across parts of the Midwest this week, especially in eastern Iowa and northern Minnesota. For areas that missed out, similar to the Southeast region, rapid drying is occurring in the short-term, leading to widespread introduction of abnormal dryness and short-term moderate drought. This week, short-term moderate drought was introduced or expanded across much of central Kentucky, the Illinois-Indiana border, and southeast Missouri. Parts of Kentucky are seeing corn leaves curl as a result of the recent hot and dry weather.

    High Plains

    Extreme drought developed in far northeast Nebraska, and in adjacent portions of South Dakota and Iowa, near the Sioux City area. Here, on the short- and long-term precipitation deficits have combined with high evaporation rates to create significant soil moisture and groundwater shortages, which have recently been reported.

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    Severe and extreme drought also expanded across northeast and central Colorado, southeast Wyoming, and parts of southwest Nebraska, where dry weather continued. North Platte, Nebraska may tie its second driest June on record, with 0.43 inches of rain having accumulated so far as of the morning of June 29. In southern Colorado, an early and active North American Monsoon has delivered heavy enough rainfall to cut into short- and long-term deficits, leading to widespread improvement of drought conditions in the southwestern part of the state.

    After recent heavy rains, drought conditions have continued to improve in northwest Wyoming. Heavy rain in central and south-central Kansas alleviated precipitation deficits and increased soil moisture and streamflow, such that drought conditions retreated to the west.


    Improvements to drought conditions in the West continued this week, though much of the region remains entrenched in drought or abnormal dryness. After recent heavy precipitation, and cool temperatures during April-June, drought conditions continued to improve in Montana and adjacent northeast Idaho this week.

    Due to heavy precipitation associated with the early and active start to the North American Monsoon, most of New Mexico, and parts of southeast Arizona, saw improvements to ongoing drought conditions. Despite these improvements, drought, still ranging from severe to exceptional in many areas, continued in the West, leading to cricket and grasshopper swarms.


    Short-term abnormal dryness and moderate drought expanded in coverage across much of New England this week, as rainfall was somewhat sparse across the eastern portion of the region. Streamflows also continued a downward trend across parts of the region. Southeastern Massachusetts has begun community water conservation as moderate short-term drought continued. Heavier precipitation from eastern Pennsylvania northward through eastern New York kept any dryness at bay there.

    Looking Ahead

    Through the evening of Monday, July 4, the National Weather Service Weather Prediction Center is forecasting dry weather across roughly the western two-thirds of Texas, much of Oklahoma, and most of the Intermountain West. Some precipitation is forecast across parts of Colorado and the Lower Missouri River Valley.

    Along the Gulf Coast, widespread precipitation is forecast to occur, with the heaviest amounts centered over parts of the Texas coast, where a tropical disturbance will approach. Heavy rainfall is also possible in coastal portions of Georgia and South Carolina.

    Elsewhere, pockets of moderate to heavy precipitation may fall across parts of the Southeast, mainly in the southern Appalachians or closer to the coasts.

    For the period from Wednesday, July 6 to Saturday, July 9, the National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center forecast favors above-normal precipitation across much of the Upper Midwest, northern Great Plains, and Ohio River Valley. To a lesser extent, above-normal precipitation is also favored in remaining areas of the U.S., except for northern New England, where equal chances for above- or below-normal precipitation exist.

    Below-normal precipitation is favored in much of Texas and Oklahoma, and across most of the West, with the highest probabilities for below-normal precipitation occurring across northeast Nevada, northern Utah, southern Idaho, and western Wyoming. The forecast slightly favors above-normal precipitation in Washington, and above-normal precipitation is favored in western and central Alaska, while below-normal precipitation is favored in the Alaska Panhandle.

    A large area of high probabilities for warmer than normal temperatures exists across the central U.S., especially from the Great Plains to the Missouri and Mississippi River valleys. Above-normal temperatures are also favored in parts of the West and Southeast.

    Within the contiguous U.S., the only locations where below-normal temperatures are favored for this period are central and northern California to western Oregon and Washington, and New England. In Alaska, cooler than normal temperatures are favored in the west, and above-normal temperatures are favored in the east.

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