Source: U.S. Drought Monitor and Summary
Data valid Nov. 21, 2019 | Nov. 19, 2019
This week’s drought summary: Following a harsh, early-season cold outbreak, which peaked from Nov. 11-14 across the central and eastern United States, temperatures began to rebound. Although cool conditions lingered for several days in the East, above-normal temperatures quickly returned across the nation’s mid-section. In the days following the cold snap, significant precipitation was limited to areas from southern Texas into parts of the Southeast. The rain further eased Southeastern drought that had peaked in coverage and intensity during the first half of October. Meanwhile, patchy, generally light precipitation stretched across the northern U.S., including the Midwest. Higher totals were observed in a few spots, including western Washington and northern New England. Dry weather covered other parts of the country, stretching from California to the central and southern Plains, leading to further development, expansion, and intensification of dryness (D0) and moderate to extreme drought (D1 to D3). In Western drought areas, warm weather aggravated the effects of ongoing dryness. As the drought-monitoring period came to an end, an approaching storm system brought the promise of Southwestern rain and snow—precipitation that will evaluated for next week’s Drought Monitor.
South: The South had a mix of degradations and improvements. Heavy rain dampened parts of southern Texas, where Harlingen netted 2.69 inches from Nov. 11-14. One of the two remaining areas of extreme drought (D3) in southern Texas was removed due to rain, and reductions in the coverage of moderate to severe drought (D1 to D2) were noted in some areas. Most other areas in the South either continued to experience no drought or had only minor increases in the coverage of dryness and drought. Among areas reporting dry weather during the drought-monitoring period, some of the most serious drought stretched across the Plains from western Oklahoma to central Texas. On Nov. 17, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported that topsoil moisture was 47% very short to short in Oklahoma and 42% very short to short in Texas. On the same date, Texas led the nation with 31% of its winter wheat rated in very poor to poor condition, compared to the national value of 14%.
Looking Ahead: A complex, two-part storm system will emerge from the Southwest during the next several days. Storm-total precipitation through Friday could reach 1 to 3 inches in portions of southern California, the Great Basin and the southwest, providing drought relief but possibly resulting in flash flooding and debris flows—especially in areas that have experienced wildfires in recent weeks. Meanwhile, a low-pressure system will cross the Midwest on Thursday and early Friday, delivering rain and wet snow and bringing renewed fieldwork delays. Farther south, another piece of the storm system should result in showers and thunderstorms, starting on Thursday across the southern Plains and shifting into the east during the weekend. Five-day rainfall amounts could total 1 to 2 inches or more in parts of the South. In contrast, mostly dry weather will prevail during the next 5 days in the lower Rio Grande Valley, southern Florida, and from northern California to the northern High Plains.
The NWS 6- to 10-day outlook for Nov. 26 – 30 calls for the likelihood of colder-than-normal conditions across the western half of the country, while above-normal temperatures will cover the east and areas along the Gulf Coast. Meanwhile, wetter-than-normal weather across most of the nation should contrast with below-normal rainfall in central and southern Texas.