Weather

    Drought Monitor Weekly: Mostly Intensification, Expansion; Some Localized Heavy Rains

    ©Debra L Ferguson Stock Photography

    Summary

    Drought persisted across much of the West this week, while flash drought over parts of the Great Plains, Ozarks, and Mississippi Valley continued to intensify and cause agricultural problems. Short-term drought also expanded over parts of the Northeast this week, where deficits in short-term precipitation and streamflows mounted in some areas.

    Conditions locally improved in parts of the Southwest due to an influx of rainfall from the North American Monsoon. Farther east into the lower Great Plains and Midwest, localized heavy rainfall led to improvements, including severe flooding in the St. Louis Metro area, which previously had been experiencing abnormally dry conditions.

    In Alaska, moderate drought was mostly removed after recent rainfall improved conditions there.

    Southeast

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    Spotty heavy rain fell in the Southeast region this week, while some areas remained dry. Temperatures were mostly within a couple degrees of normal, except for northern Alabama, North Carolina, and Virginia, where temperatures were 2-6 degrees above normal. Moderate and severe drought expanded slightly in northern Alabama in areas missed by heavy rains.Lake Wilson in eastern North Carolina has been drying as a result of ongoing moderate drought.

    In areas that received more rainfall, such as near Savannah, Georgia, conditions improved enough for drought to end. Due to recent rains, short-term moderate drought in northern Georgia also ended.

    South

    Weather across the South this week was mostly hot and dry, with some notable exceptions. Heavier rain occurred in southern Louisiana and southern Mississippi, as well as eastern Tennessee. Very localized heavy rain fell from east-central Oklahoma into southwest Arkansas.

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    Temperatures across the region were generally 2-8 degrees warmer than normal, with the warmest readings occurring in Oklahoma, Texas, northern Arkansas, and the western half of Tennessee.

    Flash drought conditions intensified further in central and northern Arkansas, central and eastern Oklahoma, and in spots in western Tennessee, northern Mississippi, northern Louisiana, and eastern and southern Texas. Crop failure and related problems are widespread in the part of the region experiencing flash drought, especially in northeast Texas, eastern and central Oklahoma, and northern Arkansas.

    Midwest

    The Midwest saw a mix of degradations and improvements in the Drought Monitor this week, after weather was highly variable across the region. Hot and dry weather covered south-central and southwest Missouri, where flash drought continued to intensify and agricultural problems continued as a result.

    Just to the north of this region, heavier rains fell in two areas, one from southeast of Kansas City to southeast Missouri, and a second in central, eastern, and northeast Missouri. The latter caused flash flooding in the St. Louis area and a record one-day rainfall at St. Louis Lambert Airport. Both areas of heavy rain set up tight north-to-south gradients in drought and abnormal dryness conditions in Missouri.

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    Improvements to the drought situation occurred in parts of northeast Illinois, though heavier rains missed the severe drought area centered near Champaign.

    Drought expansion paused this week in the Michigan Lower Peninsula where widespread rain fell. Localized improvements were made in parts of Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky where short-term conditions improved due to heavy rainfall. A mix of improvements and degradations occurred in Minnesota and Wisconsin around areas where heavier rain fell.

    Soil moisture deficits continued to mount in far northern Wisconsin, where moderate drought developed.

    High Plains

    With the exception of Colorado (which was mostly warmer than normal) and southern Kansas (which was 4-8 degrees warmer than normal), temperatures in the High Plains region this week were generally within 2-4 degrees of normal. Rainfall from the North American Monsoon occurred in parts of southern, central, and eastern Colorado, locally easing drought conditions in the eastern part of the state.

    Heavy rains in south-central and southwest South Dakota, and in southern Nebraska, northern Kansas, and east-central Kansas, led to locally improved drought and dryness conditions. Meanwhile, south of the heavier rains, flash drought continued to take hold in southern Kansas, where a combination of dry and hot weather worsened conditions.

    Extreme drought expanded in parts of southwest Nebraska, where short- and long-term precipitation deficits worsened conditions amid poor crop health. Drought also expanded in northeast Nebraska and southeast South Dakota, where soil moisture deficits continued to mount amid warm temperatures and dry weather.

    Extreme drought also developed in western Wyoming, where above-normal evaporative demand combined with short-term precipitation deficits to worsen conditions locally.

    West

    Rainfall from the North American Monsoon over the last few weeks led to some improvements in the drought situation across Arizona and New Mexico, where precipitation deficits lessened. Rain also fell in parts of Nevada, Utah, and eastern California this week.

    Temperatures were mostly 2-6 degrees above normal in the West region, though scattered areas were within a couple degrees of normal. Precipitation deficit amounts lessened enough for some improvement to ongoing short- and long-term drought in central Montana. Elsewhere, widespread drought continued this week across a large portion of the region.

    Northeast

    Generally hot weather occurred in the Northeast this week, as most of the region saw temperatures 4-8 degrees Fahrenheit above normal. Drier weather also occurred in the eastern coastal areas; this led to growing precipitation deficits, reductions in streamflow, poor soil moisture, and water shortages in some areas.

    Severe drought expanded in coverage in eastern Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and eastern Connecticut. Widespread calls for water conservation occurred from New England to the Hudson Valley and New Jersey, and hay fields struggled in Rhode Island.

    Looking Ahead

    Through the morning of Tuesday, August 2, the National Weather Service Weather Prediction Center is forecasting heavy rainfall to occur from northern New Mexico and southern Colorado eastward across parts of the southern Great Plains, Mid-South, and southern Appalachians, including some areas currently experiencing flash drought.

    Pockets of heavy rain also may occur in western New Mexico and portions of Arizona. Elsewhere, rainfall is forecast to remain generally spotty, with many areas staying dry or mostly dry. During this period, hot weather is forecast in the Northwest, while hot temperatures are forecast over the northern Great Plains and cooler-than-normal weather is likely in the central Great Plains during the weekend (July 30-31).

    Temperatures are forecast to return to near-normal levels in these areas, and then may begin to warm as Tuesday, August 2 approaches.

    For the period of August 2-6, the National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center forecast strongly favors warmer than normal temperatures over the eastern two-thirds of the contiguous United States, especially in the Middle Missouri River Valley.

    Below normal precipitation is favored in the central Great Plains, and to a lesser extent is also favored in parts of the Midwest and eastern Great Lakes. Above normal precipitation and below normal temperatures are favored in much of the western United States.

    Above normal precipitation is favored in east-central Alaska, while southwest Alaska is likelier to see below normal precipitation. Most of Alaska, excepting the far northern areas, is likelier to see below normal temperatures.




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