March 27, 2020: Latest Drought Outlook and Rainfall Forecast for Next 10 Days
The latest U.S. Drought Monitor was released last Thursday (Mar. 26) and shows drought has improved in parts of Central and East Texas but there was almost no change in South Texas or in Oklahoma or New Mexico. Last week Texas saw the introduction of the highest drought category, Exceptional Drought (D4), in Zapata County. Zapata County is the only county in the U.S. that is currently listed in this category.
U.S. Drought Outlook
The latest Drought Outlook shows NOAA expects drought to persist in South Texas, expand in several states across the West, and for most of Florida between March and the end of June. If this turns out to be true that would put approximately 3.2M beef cows in drought or about 10% of the total inventory. To put this into some perspective, last year at the end of June there were approximately 400K head of beef cows in drought. Of course, last year saw a tremendous amount of precipitation, which presented its own problems.
Precipitation Deficits for 2020 Water Year
The current Water Year is showing a pretty big contrast between the northern and southern parts of the TSCRA region. For North Texas and the eastern portion of Oklahoma, they can’t seem to stop the rainfall while South Texas and the Gulf Coasts can’t get enough with many of these areas seeing precipitation deficits of 5”- 8” (see Departure from Average map below).
Over the next 10 days some of these areas in need of rainfall could catch up somewhat and could see totals of two to four inches. Most of the rainfall, however, is expected to come at the end of the forecast period so some things could change. We’re keeping our fingers crossed.