Source: US Drought Monitor | March 21, 2019
Map released March 21, 2019; Data valid March 19, 2019
A historic major winter storm impacted much of the country this past week with blizzard conditions, category-2 hurricane-force winds, heavy rain, thunderstorms, tornadoes, and flooding. Funnel clouds and tornadoes were seen in south central Arizona and southeastern New Mexico. Up to a foot of snow fell across the Denver, Colorado, area, while up to two feet fell over southeastern Wyoming, western Nebraska, and into southwestern and central South Dakota. To the south, thunderstorms rolled across Texas and parts of the lower Mississippi River Valley into the Tennessee and Ohio Valleys, including eastern Arkansas, southwestern Tennessee, and northwestern Mississippi. Heavy rainfall melted snow and led to flooding from Kansas, Nebraska, and South Dakota to the western Great Lakes. Much of the South, however, from southern Texas eastward, missed out on most of the precipitation and conditions continue to dry.
South: Heavy precipitation from a major storm system on the 13th fell over abnormally dry (D0) and drought areas in western Oklahoma and northern and central Texas, where conditions widely improved by 1 category, and even 2 categories from western Swisher County northeastward to western Gray County. Those areas received enough rainfall to alleviate deficits at both long- and short-term time scales. The precipitation largely missed southern parts of Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Abnormally dry conditions spread from southern Alabama into the southeastern corner of Mississippi and an area was introduced from the southwest corner of the state southwestward through Lafayette Parish to the northern tip of Vermillion Parish near the Gulf of Mexico. Dryness and drought expanded eastward in southern Texas, and three pockets of severe drought (D2) were introduced: two center on Zavala and Atascosa Counties and one area sits on the border of Jim Hogg and Starr Counties in the far south.
Looking Ahead: Over the week beginning Tuesday, March 19, according to NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, light rain is generally expected over much of the contiguous United States, with regional and localized amounts of around an inch or so anticipated across several states, from California to Arkansas, along with most of the eastern seaboard from North Carolina to Maine. Already dry areas in the Southeast are expected to continue to dry.
Looking further ahead to March 25-29, there is a high probability Alaska will see above-average temperatures and precipitation. The central contiguous U.S. and Pacific Northwest may also see above-average temperatures, while most of California, eastern Nevada, and the Northeast may have below-average temperatures. This time frame may also be wetter than average across most of the region, with the exception of the upper Northeast and northern Michigan. Please note the forecast confidence for this period is below average.